U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Serbia and Montenegro
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||11 June 2003|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Serbia and Montenegro, 11 June 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d7de19.html [accessed 1 September 2014]|
Serbia and Montenegro1 (Tier 2)
Serbia and Montenegro is a transit country and, to a lesser extent, a source and destination country, for women and girls trafficked for sexual exploitation. Victims, mostly from Moldova, Romania, Ukraine, and Bulgaria, end up in Kosovo, Bosnia, Albania, and Western Europe. Roma children are trafficked through Serbia and Montenegro for begging and theft in Western Europe.
The Government of Serbia and Montenegro does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. In the past year, the federal and republic governments increased their capacity to protect victims and to cooperate with NGOs, but lack of proper treatment of victims in court, low court convictions, and potential government complicity are still serious weaknesses in the government's ability to meet the minimum standards.
Through their anti-trafficking task forces, both republics continued local prevention coordination mechanisms with NGOs. The Republic of Montenegro institutionalized the government anti-trafficking coordinator position and established three local offices to coordinate its preventive activities. The National Project Board in Montenegro organized awareness campaigns, including television spots donated by government stations. Access to government schools and other public facilities was provided for awareness campaigns.
The Serbian Parliament passed anti-trafficking amendments to the criminal code in the spring of 2003. Before the amendments, trafficking crimes were pursued under related laws. In the past year, Serbian police arrested 104 individuals for trafficking-related crimes and all cases advanced to pre-trial investigation or court proceedings. The Montenegrin Parliament passed a republic-wide anti-trafficking law used to prosecute 22 suspects for human trafficking and 14 individuals for facilitating prostitution. The majority are in court proceedings, four are in pre-trial investigation, 12 were dismissed and three individuals were convicted and sentenced to one-two years' imprisonment. Despite enhanced law enforcement capacity, court adjudication generally was weak. In several instances, courts dismissed cases for lack of evidence or allowed confusing and degrading testimony in trial. Police forces in both republics have anti-trafficking units that receive specialized training, and the border police and police academy in Serbia have anti-trafficking training as well. A notable case in the Republic of Montenegro against a public official included allegations of government complicity2. Police placed the government suspect in detention and the case is currently in pre-trial investigative procedure.
In the absence of an institutionalized system of victim protection, federal and republic governments signed memoranda of understanding with victim services organizations to ensure protection and assistance for victims. Some police were trained to identify victims as defined in the United Nations Anti-Trafficking Protocol and to make referrals to NGOs for assistance. Both republics have victim shelters and in Serbia, the Ministry of Social Services provides the premises for a national counseling center. Police receive ongoing training and awareness to decrease detention and deportation of victims. Victims do not have the right to temporary residency, but may stay in the trafficking shelter for 30 days. They are obligated to stay as long as necessary if they are assisting in criminal proceedings. The government signed the Stability Pact Ministerial agreement on shelter and residency for victims, and the Ministerial agreement between Stability Pact countries to exchange trafficking information. Victims may file civil suits and seek compensation, but foreign victims have no right to work and there is no victim compensation fund. In the notable Montenegrin case mentioned above, the victim in question was referred to the shelter and, although she was subject to intense publicity and prolonged questioning, her treatment during the pretrial investigation appeared to proceed according to international standards and she was eventually resettled in a third country. Cooperation between the republic government's anti-trafficking coordinator and some NGOs serving on the National Project Board declined after the coordinator admitted to being a close friend of one of the four suspects in the case.
Kosovo, while technically a part of Serbia and Montenegro, is currently administered under the authority of the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) pending a determination of its future status in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1244. Since the adoption of UNSCR 1244 in June 1999, UNMIK has provided transitional administration for Kosovo including in the area of rule of law, UNMIK is aware of the serious trafficking problem in Kosovo and conducts anti-trafficking efforts. The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General promulgated a trafficking regulation with the force of law in 2001, and a specialized anti-trafficking police unit made up of UN police and Kosovo Police Service officers actively enforces the regulation.
1 On February 4, 2003, the Yugoslav parliament adopted the Constitutional Charter and Implementation Law, marking the end of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the beginning of the state union of Serbia and Montenegro. Since June 1999, Kosovo has been administered under the authority of the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK).
2 The Minister of Interior, after backing the arrest and investigation of the deputy public prosecutor and three other suspects on suspicion of trafficking and facilitating prosecution, was not included in the Prime Minister's new government – a move widely interpreted as a virtual dismissal.