Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April 2014, 10:56 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Serbia and Montenegro

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 3 June 2005
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Serbia and Montenegro, 3 June 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d86223.html [accessed 24 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Serbia and Montenegro (Tier 2)

The union of Serbia and Montenegro is a source, transit, and destination country for women and girls trafficked internally and internationally for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Internal trafficking of ethnic Roma children for forced begging continues to be a problem. Victims identified in Serbia and Montenegro came from Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Moldova, Georgia, and from the former Yugoslavia. In Serbia, more than half of victims that are trafficked internally originate in the northern province of Vojvodina. Foreign destinations for victims from Serbia and Montenegro include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Western Europe (principally Italy), as well as the UN-administered province of Kosovo.

The Governments of constituent republics Serbia and Montenegro, to which most authority has devolved, do not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, they are making significant efforts to do so. The two republics do not have joint counter-trafficking institutions, but do conduct joint counter-trafficking activities occasionally on an ad hoc basis; this report consequently provides a separate analysis for each. The Tier 2 designation is based on the weighted aggregate of their efforts, which showed considerable, but unbalanced, progress.

The Government of the Republic of Serbia made significant progress in providing anti-trafficking resources for law enforcement and created a new humanitarian visa for victims. However, the weak adjudication of trafficking cases, inefficiency of the judiciary, and inadequate victim protection hampered its anti-trafficking efforts. The government should pass witness protection legislation currently before parliament to formalize the current ad hoc victim safety efforts in court proceedings.

The Republic of Montenegro made good faith efforts to improve its overall anti-trafficking performance from the previous year, increasing its anti-trafficking enforcement efforts and devoting more resources to combat the problem. The government should demonstrate increased implementation of its anti-trafficking laws and ensure full implementation of the recent memorandum of understanding between the government and NGOs governing the treatment and referral of possible victims. Because inconsistency in the administration of justice in trafficking cases continued, largely due to the individual discretion of judges and prosecutors, the government should conduct outreach with the judiciary to stress the importance of improving its record on trafficking prosecutions and convictions.

THE REPUBLIC OF SERBIA

Prosecution

In 2004, Serbia took important steps to increase its law enforcement capacity to combat trafficking. Serbia established two full-time police anti-trafficking units consisting of six officers within the organized crime police and nine officers within the border police. Over the reporting period, the police units increased trafficking investigations and victim identification. Police filed criminal charges for 24 investigations involving 51 suspects in 2004. Five trials were concluded during the reporting period and resulted in convictions of all 25 defendants. The majority of defendants continued to be released pending appeal, following standard judicial practice in Serbia. As of the end of the reporting period, the government was prosecuting one case involving ten defendants. The National Anti-trafficking Coordinator took proactive steps to counter poor statistics-keeping by the judiciary by ordering regional police secretariats to follow up with local prosecutors on all trafficking cases filed during the year. Overall, the judiciary failed to treat trafficking cases with the seriousness they deserved and in some cases did not demonstrate sufficient sensitivity to trafficking victims. There were no reports of official complicity in trafficking.

Protection

The Serbian Government increased its institutional ability to coordinate and provide victim protection during the reporting period. The Agency for the Coordination of Protection to Victims of Trafficking, established in March 2004, coordinated NGO and international organization provision of assistance and protection. Some NGOs indicated better cooperation with police on victim protection matters. Notably, in 2004 the Interior Minister established temporary residence permits for trafficking victims. Victims are allowed unconditional three-month recovery and reflection period, and given six months to one-year residency if they participate in an investigation or prosecution. A victim may also be granted one year's residency with no requirement for cooperation if returning to his or her home country would put the victim's life at risk. In some instances, victims were questioned by police and judges in front of their traffickers, who threatened them. Due to fear of traffickers and the government's informal, ad hoc approach to witness protection, many victims refuse to participate or cooperate in judicial proceedings.

Prevention

The government's anti-trafficking prevention activities remained weak in 2004; NGOs continued to organize and fund the majority of Serbia's public information campaigns on the issue. The National Coordinator initiated and created a documentary on the government's anti-trafficking efforts that enjoyed wide viewership. In 2004, the Foreign Ministry of Serbia and Montenegro hosted a meeting for diplomats in source and destination countries to present protection mechanisms available for victims. The police participated in debates in schools as part of a joint NGO/IOM public awareness campaign that included spots in the media. The government adopted a plan for children in 2004 targeted at decreasing their vulnerability to trafficking.

THE REPUBLIC OF MONTENEGRO

Prosecution

The Government of the Republic of Montenegro improved its support of police and enhanced its ability to conduct anti-trafficking operations in 2004. The police anti-trafficking team was re-established in April 2004 and subsequently submitted six cases to the judiciary resulting in charges against 18 perpetrators. At the end of the reporting period, five prosecutions involving 14 people were underway. The government increased its 2005 funding for the Office of the National Coordinator, who now works on trafficking full time. In April 2004, the Montenegrin Government adopted a new criminal procedure code that allows for enhanced surveillance techniques and mitigated punishment for cooperating suspects. While the government actively investigated cases of trafficking, Montenegro's judiciary remained weak; judges exhibited insufficient understanding of trafficking cases, allowed long delays in trafficking prosecutions, and imposed inadequate sentences upon conviction. There were no reports of official complicity in trafficking.

Protection

In October 2004, the Republic of Montenegro passed a witness protection law applicable to trafficking victims. The government provided space for a new trafficking shelter and allocated funding for the next year. The predominant anti-trafficking NGO reported good relations and coordination with the National Coordinator. A government commission investigating a controversial 2002 trafficking prosecution released its report in 2004. The report questioned the character of the trafficking victim who served as the prosecution's key witness, giving rise to allegations that the report was a cover-up of high-level corruption in the case. OSCE and Amnesty International sharply criticized the 2004 report. Montenegrin courts continued to show insensitivity to the needs of trafficking victims. Victims who were not identified by the police or prosecutor as victims could potentially be charged with prostitution or, if they were foreign nationals, be deported. The government did not report any deportations, but NGOs suggested that in many cases potential trafficking victims not properly identified were deported.

Prevention

The Montenegrin Government conducted some public awareness campaigns, mainly in schools, but efforts were constrained by limited funding; the government also participated in NGO sponsored programs. The Ministry of Interior Affairs worked to ensure local media coverage when the Minister spoke publicly about trafficking. Montenegro improved its coordination mechanisms in 2004 and established a subgroup on trafficking in children under the National Project Board. Moreover, the National Coordinator chaired a working group that was developing detailed action plans for each ministry to implement Montenegro's national strategy adopted in 2003.

KOSOVO

Kosovo, while technically a part of Serbia and Montenegro, continued to be administered under the authority of the United Nations Interim Administrative Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). Since June 1999, UNMIK has provided transitional administration for Kosovo, and retains ultimate authority over anti-trafficking actors such as police and justice. UNMIK is aware of the trafficking problem in Kosovo and continued to conduct anti-trafficking efforts with the OSCE, the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG), and local and international NGOs. Responsibility for social support to victims of trafficking is shared by UNMIK, PISG, and international organizations.

Kosovo is a source, transit, and destination point, primarily for women and children trafficked for sexual exploitation and, to a lesser degree, domestic servitude. Internal trafficking continued to be an increasingly serious problem. In 2004, UNMIK's Trafficking and Prostitution Investigation Unit (TPIU) made 77 arrests, conducted 2,386 raids, and assisted 48 victims, 17 percent of whom were minors. The number of victims assisted in Kosovo consistently declined; this is believed to be due to increasingly sophisticated criminal networks reacting to anti-trafficking enforcement efforts and shifting the commercial sex trade out of public bars and into private homes. There are three shelters for trafficking victims in Kosovo. Weak sentencing for convicted traffickers and lack of adequate witness protection continued to be serious problems. Anti-trafficking awareness campaigns in 2004 were largely carried out by NGOs. In 2004, the Ministry of Education worked with one NGO to train teachers to incorporate trafficking into civics education curricula. UNMIK established a helpline for trafficking victims in 2004. The PISG is leading the effort to create a Kosovo Action Plan and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for assisting internal trafficking victims. SOPs for assisting foreign trafficking victims were implemented in 2004.

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