The General Assembly of the United Nations has adopted resolution which declares 30th of July as a World’s Day Against Trafficking in Persons with the aim to raise the global awareness about this issue. A month ago, the US State Department has released this year’s TIP report which states that the Government of Republic of Serbia did not fulfill minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking nor law enforcement efforts to counter trafficking and protect victims. Therefore, Serbia is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. In 2015, victim’s identification significantly decreased and specialized programs for trafficking victims did not meet their needs. Concerning fact is also that the government did not afford to victims sufficient protection in criminal proceedings, which exposed them to intimidation and secondary trauma. Additionally, compensation for victims is absent. Further on, periods of reflection for victims are being violated, the accommodation is inadequate, reintegration and social inclusion services are lacking. The NGOs service providers are not sufficiently included in the process of identification and support for trafficked persons.
However, fight against human trafficking significantly depends on government’s efforts to counter trafficking. Thus, action plan for Chapter 24 in the negotiation process with EU which involves the section on human trafficking could be a chance to alter the existing circumstances.
In the following years, a significant change in regard to human trafficking, victims and types of exploitation is not expected to be seen. According to official data and ASTRA hotline sources, in the last couple of years trafficking victims are usually women and men from Serbia (2015- 92,5%). They are being exploited internally, in Serbia (2015- 67,5%). Considerable percent of identified victims in trafficking are children, high 60% in 2015. When it comes to types of exploitation, victims are usually exposed to some kind of sexual exploitation (2015- 55%). Nevertheless, forced labor, forced begging, coercion to commit crimes and forced marriages are also present. During the first six months of 2016, ASTRA hotline has received over 1800 calls and has identified 10 victims of different kind of exploitation.
Therefore, we invite Government of Serbia to fully take over the responsibilities, obliged and signed within the international documents which would increase the efforts to identify victims, investigate, prosecute and convict the traffickers. Additional trainings for prosecutors and judges are also needed in order to provide a full range of protection on court to diminish secondary trauma. Likewise, it is important to put in action a non-punishment clause for trafficking victims for crimes committed under the coercion.
On the occasion of the Worlds’ Day Against Trafficking in Persons ASTRA is publishing anylisis of the position of human trafficking victims in court proceedings in 2015. The analysis of the position of human trafficking victims in court proceedings is available here.