U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Serbia and Montenegro
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||14 June 2004|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Serbia and Montenegro, 14 June 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d81311.html [accessed 5 March 2015]|
Serbia and Montenegro (and Kosovo) (Tier 2 Watch List)
The state union of Serbia and Montenegro is a source country for women and girls trafficked internally and internationally for the purpose of sexual exploitation and Roma children trafficked internally for the purpose of begging. Serbia and Montenegro is also a transit and destination country for women and girls trafficked into sexual exploitation from Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Romania and Bulgaria to Kosovo, Bosnia, Croatia, Albania and Western European countries, principally Italy and Germany.
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, but they are making significant efforts to do so. The two republics do not conduct joint counter-trafficking activities; this report consequently provides a separate analysis for each. The Tier 2 Watch List designation is based on the weighted aggregate of their efforts, which showed a lack of significant progress, especially in the case of Montenegro.
The Government of the Republic of Serbia cooperated with NGOs in public awareness activities and government trainings, but it should provide sufficient tools for law enforcement authorities to conduct effective investigations and victim protection, and utilize new laws on trafficking which carry increased penalties.
The Republic of Montenegro failed to prosecute government officials involved in trafficking, which had negative effects on its victim referral mechanisms. During the latter part of the reporting period, the government focused on reconstituting the halted victim referral mechanism and remedying legislative weaknesses. Montenegro should increase the transparency of its counter-trafficking activities, and strengthen oversight at every level to protect against government complicity.
THE REPUBLIC OF SERBIA
In April 2003, the Serbian Parliament passed new criminal laws against trafficking in persons for sexual and non-sexual exploitation, which prescribe penalties of up to 10 years for a simple offense and increased penalties for aggravating circumstances. Courts indicted suspected traffickers mostly under trafficking-related charges with relatively light sentences. The Ministry of Justice reported seven prosecutions for trafficking, 63 for mediation in prostitution, and four for slavery. Thirteen traffickers were convicted in a joint trial on charges such as mediation of prostitution, forgery, illegal deprivation of liberty, illegal border crossing and rape. Sentences ranged from eight months to three-and-a-half years; the defendants were released from custody pending appeal. Official corruption is a continuing problem; off-duty police officers were caught providing security at venues where trafficking victims were located. Most of these individuals received only administrative sanctions, but one officer was charged with a criminal offense. Each police district in Serbia has a special anti-trafficking team, but their resources were limited.
The government and NGOs communicated well on protection activities, but police operated without a formalized referral system and victims tended not to cooperate due to insufficient protections. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) oversaw establishment of a referral center housed in the Social Affairs Ministry. Police relied on an NGO-run shelter overseen by the IOM to house victims. Police commonly interviewed victims upon police apprehension, and those who did not self-identify as victims were charged with prostitution or deported. The government did not implement a regional Ministerial declaration on residency status for victims.
Government officials spoke out against trafficking, but NGOs took the lead on public information campaigns. The government increased the number of training sessions for law enforcement officials. The Interior Ministry briefed consular and diplomatic officials with country-specific trafficking information. The Ministry of Social Affairs organized an anti-trafficking training project for its employees.
THE REPUBLIC OF MONTENEGRO
The Government of the Republic of Montenegro suffered a loss in public and international confidence after it failed to prosecute the deputy state prosecutor for trafficking in the well-known "SC" case.* Responding to criticism, the government reconstituted its referral system and drafted new criminal and procedural laws that strengthen penalties and increase institutional oversight. The Montenegrin criminal code prohibits trafficking in persons for the purposes of sexual, labor and other exploitation, and prescribes punishment of up to 10 years' imprisonment for a simple offense, with increasing penalties for aggravating circumstances. Of the 15 cases submitted to the prosecution since 2002, there have been no convictions. Official corruption remains a problem; victims named police and government officials who were among their clients but the government did not take legal action. Prosecutors who were involved in the decision not to prosecute in the "SC" case were all dismissed, but with severance pay. The Ministry of Interior's anti-trafficking unit was disbanded. Montenegrin police successfully recaptured fugitive trafficking kingpin Dilaver Bojku and returned him to Macedonia for trial.
*SC represents the victim's initials.
For most of the reporting period, the government's formerly effective referral system was inoperative. Following mutual allegations of mishandling in the "SC" case, the government and shelter operators ceased cooperation in June 2003. By March 2004, the government finalized a new agreement with an NGO for shelter management and opened a new trafficking victim's shelter. Despite signing a regional ministerial declaration on residency for victims, foreign victims were not provided residency status. Victims who failed to self-identify as victims were charged with prostitution or deported.
The National Project Board coordinated the government's prevention efforts. The Board's activities were discontinued following the "SC" case, but the government appointed a new coordinator, and reconstituted the Board. The government also formed an anti-trafficking working group, and adopted a new anti-trafficking strategy with recommendations by international experts. The Ministry of Education conducted an anti-trafficking program for school officials in eight school districts.
Kosovo, while technically a part of Serbia and Montenegro, is currently administered under the authority of the United Nations Interim administrative Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) pending a determination of its final status. Since June 1999, UNMIK has provided transitional administration for Kosovo, and retains competency over anti-trafficking roles such as police and justice. UNMIK is aware of the trafficking problem in Kosovo and conducts anti-trafficking efforts with the OSCE, the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) and local and international NGOs. International organizations have ultimate responsibility for law enforcement and social support to victims of trafficking. Some local institutions are currently developing a Kosovo Plan of Action to facilitate coordination of government anti-TIP efforts.
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 is a serious problem. In 2003, UNMIK's Trafficking and Prostitution Investigation Unit (TPIU) conducted 2,047 operations and assisted 70 victims. Of the 60 trials for trafficking in 2003, 26 were ongoing at year's end, 18 ended in acquittal, and 17 ended with convictions. Victims are referred by TPIU to local NGOs for assistance. There are two shelters, one for foreign victims and one for Kosovar victims.