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The World Day against Trafficking in Persons was marked on 30 July 2017 

The World Day against Trafficking in Persons was marked on 30 July 2017 with the aim to attract the attention of the public to different forms of human trafficking. Right before this date, workers’ dissatisfaction had culminated in Serbia, and there had been news on workers’ strikes in a few big companies. Therefore, on this date, we wish to remind the state organs, and all relevant partakers not to neglect the issue of bad working conditions and the issue of violation of the rights of our workers in the country and abroad, especially as such situations often lead to human trafficking with the aim of labour exploitation.

 ASTRA recognized labour exploitation as a form of human trafficking already in 2005, and in the last few years, the labour exploitation has been the second most widespread form of human trafficking, right after the sexual exploitation. According to the official data, there have been 136 identified victims of labour exploitation in Serbia, while 77 victims have been identified by means of ASTRA’s SOS line. The most dominant among them are men exploited in the construction industry, in seasonal jobs of fruit picking, or work in factories. However, there have been cases of women who have been in labour exploitation situations as housemaids, nurses for elderly, childcarers and similar.

Indirect contact with citizens of Serbia, only during 2017, ASTRA received over 400 calls related to examination of work opportunities in the country and abroad and recognized a big number of risky jobs which could have been fraudulent or led to exploitation of our citizens. Due to the organization’s long experience in the field of human trafficking prevention, ASTRA has for many years been warning of the fact that the illegal work and other forms of non-regulated labour engagement and violation of labour rights leed to the situation when the citizens find it hard to recognize exploitation and exploitative and fraudulent employment offers. Additionally, the fraudulent employment and labour exploitation, even if they are forms of human trafficking, are not recognized sufficiently in the legislation, the cases are not processed, convicting court decisions are absent, as well as any reactions of relevant subjects who may prevent such situations and punish the offenders. We once again appeal to the state organs of the Republic of Serbia, to systemically react and act with the aim of protecting labour rights and secure deserving labour conditions for our citizens, as well as with the aim of preventing and punishing the cases of human trafficking as the most extreme form of exploitation. 

In 2016, ASTRA recorded an increased number of calls of citizens related to job offers in Slovakia. The jobs, in most cases, referred to work in factories of big companies and involved production and assembling of TV sets (Samsung, Bosh etc.), car and food industry. The citizens in most cases worked illegally, without a contract or a work permit, for fees far beyond the promised, and the agreed working hours and work conditions were not respected. Additionally, there were cases when the workers were humiliated and punished. ASTRA contacted institutions in Serbia as to check on the information and initiate necessary actions in protection of our citizens. Apart from the extensive media coverage, little has been done to prevent the violation of labour rights of our workers. The agencies which had sent the workers to Slovakia were fined for business offences of not having the license as employment intermediaries. After they were given an opportunity to get the license, they could continue to legally send people to work under the same exploitative circumstances, but this time practically with official approval. 
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