Kosovo is a special case for the 2008 Report because it did not have an effective national government for most of the reporting period. The Kosovo Assembly declared Kosovo to be an independent state on February 17, 2008. Prior to that date and since 1999, Kosovo had been administered by the United Nations Interim Administrative Mission (UNMIK) in Kosovo.
Scope and Magnitude. Kosovo is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked transnationally and within the borders of Kosovo for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. There are reports from Kosovo of children being forced to beg, possibly by parents, raising concerns about possible trafficking. Kosovo government statistics indicate that most Kosovar victims are children, while most foreign victims are young women from Eastern Europe. Some victims transit Kosovo en route to Macedonia, Italy, and Albania. Traffickers shifted the commercial sex trade into private homes and escort services to avoid detection, a result of increased law enforcement checks on bars and restaurants.
Recommendations for Kosovo: Vigorously investigate and prosecute sex and labor trafficking offenders, as well as public officials complicit in trafficking; sustain efforts to ensure that convicted traffickers receive adequate punishments; provide trafficking-specific training for prosecutors; ensure adequate victim protection and that victims are not inappropriately penalized for unlawful acts committed as a result of being trafficked; and continue trafficking prevention activities, including efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sexual exploitation.
Government Efforts. Kosovo criminally prohibits sex and labor trafficking through its Provisional Criminal Code of Kosovo, which came into effect in 2004 and prescribes penalties for human trafficking that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. In the first quarter of 2008 the Kosovo Police Service (KPS) closed 27 suspected brothels, compared to six closed in the same period in 2007, due to suspected trafficking. In 2007, there were 31 prosecutions and 24 convictions of sex traffickers in Kosovo. Twenty-two of those convicted received prison sentences ranging from one year to 20 years' in prison. One convict was fined and another was paroled. There were no reported investigations or prosecutions of labor trafficking. The government provided training on recognizing and investigating trafficking for police officers and border police, although it acknowledges a lack of awareness of available anti-trafficking tools and legislation among some prosecutors. While there were reports of some officials' involvement in trafficking, particularly in the area of employment contract registration, there were no reported prosecutions or convictions of any such officials.
The Kosovo government, UNMIK, international organizations, and NGOs together developed standard operating procedures governing protection and assistance for trafficking victims. The government reported assisting 33 victims of trafficking in 2007, 14 of whom had been trafficked within Kosovo. The government partially funds one shelter and an assisted living project specifically for child trafficking victims. Domestic and foreign victims received protection and access to medical and psychological services through the government-run and funded shelter and IOM, as well as through NGOs offering additional shelters and services to victims. During the last year, the Ministry of Justice did not renew funding for additional NGOs it had funded in previous years. The government was able to provide 24-hour protection of limited duration to victims and allows victims to give anonymous testimony, but witness intimidation remained a serious problem in Kosovo. While regulations protect victims from being charged with unlawful acts committed as a result of being trafficked, there is anecdotal evidence that victims may have nonetheless been jailed or automatically deported for prostitution offenses. Victims of trafficking have legal alternatives to removal to countries where they face hardship or retribution through the granting of refugee status and approval of residency permits. The government reports that victims are not pressured to assist in investigation and prosecution of traffickers.
Most anti-trafficking awareness campaigns were run by international organizations and NGOs with the government's support. IOM and the Ministry of Justice sponsored anti-trafficking hotlines. In July 2007, the Prime Minister approved an initiative declaring October to be national trafficking awareness month. Officials participated in several roundtables and panel discussions on human trafficking, and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology took part in a regional project to help parents prevent children from becoming trafficking victims. The Prime Minister's Advisory Office for Good Governance coordinates communication among counter-trafficking entities in Kosovo, including the relevant ministries, NGOs and international organizations. The national action plan expired in December 2006 with several goals unfulfilled. Kosovo's mayors are leading a campaign to address the illegal sex trade.
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