2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Kosovo
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||27 June 2011|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Kosovo, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee6cc.html [accessed 22 November 2014]|
Kosovo (Tier 2)
Kosovo is a source, destination, and possibly a transit country for women and children who are subjected to sex trafficking, and children subjected to forced begging. Most foreign victims of forced prostitution are young women from Eastern Europe including Moldova, Albania, Poland, and Serbia. Kosovar women and children are subjected to forced prostitution within Kosovo and also in countries throughout Europe. NGOs reported that child beggars were vulnerable to forced labor in Kosovo. Police continue to report that internal trafficking involving Kosovar Serbs may also occur in north Kosovo. IOM reported that for the fifth year in a row, it had assisted more victims of internal trafficking than victims of transnational trafficking.
The Government of Kosovo does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government elevated its anti-trafficking police section to directorate status and more than tripled the number of anti-trafficking investigations. It identified more trafficking victims than in prior years and offered a comprehensive range of government-funded services to those victims. All certified victims of trafficking participated in criminal investigations this year. The government's prevention efforts were very strong; it conducted a diverse and innovative trafficking awareness raising campaign in the fall of 2010. Trafficking cases were slow to resolve, however, and the rate of conviction was lower than in prior years. Challenges in victim identification persisted this year, as the government identified an average of one victim for every 10 raids conducted, and few victims of trafficking were identified among a highly vulnerable population of child beggars. Finally, there were investigations and prosecutions of public officials for complicity in trafficking, but there were no convictions.
Recommendations for Kosovo: Proactively prosecute, convict, and sentence sex and labor trafficking offenders, including officials complicit in trafficking; enhance effectiveness of victim identification during the raid procedures by thoroughly and consistently employing the standard operating procedures; enhance investigation of forced labor offenses; increase detection and protection for victims of forced begging in Kosovo; ensure that illegal migrants are screened for potential victims of trafficking prior to deportation; and continue public awareness campaigns, including campaigns about the risks of begging.
The Government of Kosovo demonstrated clear progress in law enforcement efforts in 2010, despite continuing problems with the resolution of cases through the judiciary. Kosovo prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons in Articles 137 and 139 of the 2004 criminal code, and prescribes a maximum sentence of 12 years' imprisonment, with a sentence of 20 years' imprisonment available for organizers of trafficking crimes. These punishments are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with punishments prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. During the reporting period, Kosovo authorities elevated the anti-trafficking section to a directorate, improving the specialized section's access to resources for combating trafficking. The section's elevated status included an approximate 50 percent increase in law enforcement officers assigned to investigate trafficking. Nonetheless, the police reported continued difficulties in staffing available positions with minority, ethnic Serbian law enforcement officers, which would enable the police to conduct more effective outreach in North Kosovo. The Kosovo Special Prosecutor's Office's specialized task force on organized crime, corruption, and trafficking reached full staffing in February 2010.
In 2010, Kosovo authorities conducted 194 investigations, a significant increase from 63 investigations in 2009. Kosovo's judiciary, however, faced challenges at all levels and those limitations affected convictions and sentences. In 2010, authorities began prosecutions of 81 offenders in 28 new cases, in contrast to 25 trafficking offenders prosecuted in 2009. The government reported 11 convictions of sex trafficking offenders, in contrast to 22 convictions the prior year. No labor trafficking offenders were convicted this year. All trafficking offenders received jail terms this year; two received sentences of three years' imprisonment, five received sentences of two years, one received a sentence of more than one year, two received sentences of six months, and one received a sentence of three months. In a marked improvement over the prior year, all officially identified trafficking victims cooperated with investigations and gave statements to the police. Although victims were able to file civil suits against traffickers, no victims did so this year. The government continued to provide anti-trafficking training to law enforcement and border police, including 155 new police recruits. In December, the authorities trained 323 customs and border officials to identify potential victims of trafficking.
There were internal police investigations of four officers for complicity in trafficking in persons. Prosecution proceedings continued against four border police and one municipal official for involvement in trafficking. The government, however, reported no convictions or sentencing of government officials complicit in human trafficking.
The Kosovo government demonstrated mixed efforts on victim protection, providing a comprehensive range of services for victims but still facing challenges in victim identification. During the reporting period, the government drafted and adopted the Minimum Standards of Care for Victims of Trafficking, strengthening ties between the victim shelters, unifying standards for services, and establishing common reporting forms. The Kosovo government supported nine shelters that accommodated trafficking victims, including a specialized shelter for children and a high security trafficking-specific shelter. Through these shelters, the government provided care such as housing, medical care, clothing, counseling, and legal and educational assistance. The Kosovo police identified and assisted 39 victims of trafficking, including several children, and referred them for services in the shelters, an increase from the 27 victims it identified in 2009. The government reported that trafficking victims were permitted to leave the shelters at will. In total, the government of Kosovo provided $216,234 for victim care this year. The Kosovo authorities developed programs for the long-term reintegration and rehabilitation of trafficking victims. For example, the government provided tax incentives for businesses that provided employment for victims of trafficking; two trafficking victims were employed under the program. Nevertheless, international experts expressed concerns that there were insufficient care and rehabilitation options for child victims of trafficking who did not want to return to their families, members of which had often contributed to their initial trafficking.
In 2009, international experts reported problems with the government's victim identification procedures. This year, in conducting raids of over 300 bars and cafes, the government officially identified only 39 victims. The government justified the high number of raids as, in part, a prevention tool, claiming the large number of raids ensured that trafficking victims understood that law enforcement officials were available to help in cases of exploitation. In these raids, the government reported that police officers followed established standard operating procedures. Under these procedures, Kosovo officers enlisted the support of victims' advocates and social workers at the interview of any trafficking victim. NGOs reported that the implementation of the referral mechanism improved during the year. Nevertheless, according to one NGO, the government did little to identify children in begging as victims of trafficking, despite reports that they were highly vulnerable to exploitation. Instead, vulnerable children from outside of Kosovo were deported prior to formal victim identification and care. The Kosovo Police Anti-Trafficking Directorate and social workers from the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare conducted a pilot project during the reporting period to assess whether there were victims of trafficking among the vulnerable population of child beggars. The project initially catalogued nearly one hundred child beggars in a database with photos and family details, but did not identify any victims of trafficking among the group of children formally assessed.
The Government of Kosovo demonstrated strong prevention efforts this year, including creative, broad-impact public awareness raising campaigns and strengthened national coordination activities. During September and October 2010, the Government of Kosovo funded and implemented a multi-faceted awareness raising campaign, including televised public debates on trafficking trends and challenges, anti-trafficking SMS messages sent to more than one million mobile phone subscribers, anti-trafficking television and radio broadcasts, a national billboard campaign, anti-trafficking artistic shows in schools, and anti-trafficking leaflets and posters distributed at all border points. From March to May 2010, the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology conducted anti-trafficking trainings for 125 elementary and secondary school teachers on victim identification and preventing trafficking. The Government of Kosovo's inter-ministerial working group met monthly to coordinate government efforts to combat trafficking; sub-working groups addressing prevention, protection, prosecution, and the trafficking of children also met regularly. The Government of Kosovo's National Anti-Trafficking Secretariat implemented a database during the reporting period to monitor information from government sources, NGOs, and international organizations on human trafficking. The system enabled the government to track both victims of trafficking through rehabilitation or repatriation and trafficking offenders throughout the criminal process. The government produced and broadcast a television spot and a radio campaign aimed at reducing demand for commercial sex.