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U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Serbia

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 12 June 2007
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Serbia, 12 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/467be3d6c.html [accessed 1 October 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 (Tier 2)

Serbia is a source, transit, and destination country for women and girls trafficked transnationally and internally for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Foreign victims originated primarily from Macedonia, Ukraine, Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, and Albania and some transited Serbia en route to Western Europe. Internal sex trafficking of Serbian women and girls increased over the past year with traffickers increasingly utilizing Internet chat rooms and SMS (short messaging service) to recruit young people. In some cases children were trafficked into forced labor or forced street begging.

The Government of Serbia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government passed a comprehensive national strategy, augmented prevention efforts, and continued training efforts at the national and local levels. The government should aggressively prosecute cases and ensure that traffickers receive jail sentences consistent with the heinous nature of the offense.

Prosecution

The Government of Serbia demonstrated continued efforts to actively investigate trafficking cases in the last year, though punishment for trafficking crimes remained weak. The criminal code for Serbia, which went into effect in January 2006, criminally prohibits sex and labor trafficking in article 388. Penalties for commercial sexual exploitation are commensurate with those for rape. The law prescribes penalties for trafficking that are sufficiently stringent; however, traffickers may receive imposed sentences that are light or suspended. Even after the Supreme Court confirms a verdict, inefficient administrative procedures cause delay, and it is not uncommon for convicted traffickers to remain free and able to continue trafficking for years. Of the three high-profile prosecutions from previous years, one trafficker originally sentenced in March 2004 still has not begun serving his sentence. In 2006, the government filed 37 criminal cases against 84 people for trafficking in persons, up from 34 individuals indicted last year. Eleven people were convicted for trafficking in persons; sentences ranged from three to eight years' imprisonment. The organized crime police force includes a full-time trafficking unit and the border police force has a full-time office to combat trafficking and smuggling. There were no reports of trafficking-related corruption; however, authorities did not respond to requests for information on alleged local police complicity in previous years in a prostitution ring in Novi Pazar.

Protection

The government demonstrated increased efforts to provide protection to victims and improved coordination with NGOs and international organizations over the past year. The government encouraged victims to assist in the prosecution of traffickers. Serbia allows victims to file civil suits against traffickers for compensation. Victims pursuing criminal or civil suits are entitled to temporary residence permits and may obtain employment or leave the country pending trial proceedings; however there are no other legal alternatives to removal to countries where they face hardship or retribution. Victims are not detained, jailed, prosecuted, or deported for violations of other laws. However, in one case in 2006, law enforcement returned a child victim to the family that originally trafficked her to a pedophile. The government relied on NGOs to provide services to victims of trafficking, including counseling, legal assistance, and reintegration programs. In 2006, 33 trafficking victims were accommodated in the two shelters, 16 victims received assistance in transition housing, and reintegration services were provided to 44 women.

Prevention

The Government of Serbia demonstrated increased public awareness and prevention activities in 2006. The government aired four anti-trafficking public service announcements on national television throughout the soccer championship finals last year. The government earmarked approximately $100,000 for a 13-episode television series entitled "Modern Slavery," devoted to generating awareness on trafficking. The government's anti-trafficking team, under the leadership of the National Coordinator promoted interagency collaborations with four working groups.

Kosovo

Kosovo, while technically a part of Serbia, continued to be administered under the authority of the United Nations Interim Administrative Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999). Since June 1999, UNMIK has provided transitional administration for Kosovo, and retains ultimate authority over anti-trafficking roles such as police and justice, but is slowly transferring capacity to local institutions. 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 location for women and children trafficked transnationally and internally for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Foreign victims originated primarily from Moldova, Romania, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Albania, Russia, Montenegro, Slovakia, and Nigeria. Some victims transit Kosovo en route to Macedonia, Italy, and Albania. There was a significant increase in the number of Kosovars trafficked internally over the past year, and victims also came from other areas of Serbia. Traffickers shifted the commercial sex trade into private homes and escort services to avoid detection, a result of UNMIK's Trafficking in Human Beings Unit (THBS), and Kosovo Police increased checks on bars and restaurants.

Prosecution

In 2006 the PISG took on greater responsibility for anti-trafficking, with the police anti-trafficking unit transitioning from UNMIK Civilian Police to the Kosovo Police Service (KPS). Kosovo criminally prohibits sex and labor trafficking in the Provisional Criminal Code of Kosovo, which came into effect in 2004. Penalties for commercial sexual exploitation are commensurate with those for rape. The law prescribes penalties sufficiently stringent; however, traffickers may receive imposed sentences that are light. The KPS reported that 99 anti-trafficking operations were undertaken in 2006, 24 of which were undercover operations. The KPS arrested 28 people on trafficking charges, a slight decrease from 33 arrested last year, and identified 50 victims. Since the KPS gained full competency for counter-trafficking activities from UNMIK Police, the number of bar inspections increased dramatically and there was an increase in the number of bars closed. Over the past year, the KPS closed 14 premises suspected of being used to exploit victims of trafficking. The judiciary worked on 42 trafficking cases, 27 of which were resolved from previous years. During 2006, 14 cases were completed, resulting in 18 convictions. Fifteen convicts received prison terms ranging from four months to nine years and three convicts received suspended sentences. Although there were reports of official involvement in trafficking, there were no reported prosecutions or convictions of public officials complicit in trafficking.

Protection

There continues to be close cooperation on assisting victims of trafficking among PISG officials, NGOs, and international organizations in Kosovo. UNMIK regulations protect victims from being charged with prostitution or illegal activities committed as a result of being trafficked, although IOM reported that some victims were jailed or deported depending on which part of the penal code was used. Kosovo encourages victims to testify in trafficking investigations, but does not pressure them. Victims may file civil suits or seek legal action against their traffickers. Victims of trafficking do have a legal alternative to removal to countries where they face hardship or retribution through provision of refugee status and approval of residency permits, if appropriate. Victim advocates assist all trafficking victims with legal advice and support. All victims are provided shelter and access to legal, medical and psychological services. The PISG provides 24-hour protection to victims and allows anonymous testimony in cases where the victim's safety is at risk. In 2006, the Victims' Advocacy and Assistance Unit moved from the UNMIK Department of Justice to the new Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Justice's Victims' Advocacy assisted 35 victims of trafficking in 2006 and IOM assisted 538 trafficking victims, of whom 51% were Moldovans. Funding for shelters remained inadequate. The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare provided some funding for a shelter for internal trafficking victims. The largest shelter for foreign trafficking victims received no government funding and relied on foreign donors; it closed due to insufficient funds.

Prevention

Most anti-trafficking campaigns are run by international organizations and NGOs with the PISG's support. IOM and the Ministry of Justice sponsor anti-trafficking hotlines. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology circulated informational brochures in primary and secondary schools and introduced counter-trafficking information in school curricula. Kosovo named a national anti-trafficking coordinator and adopted a Kosovo Action Plan.

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