Bringing Light to the Darkness of Human Trafficking (Trafficking in Persons)

BELGRADE – In the field of trafficking in human beings, Serbia remains a country of origin, transit and destination for trafficking and all forms of exploitation, in particular sexual and labour exploitation.

Human trafficking represents an estimated $31.6 billion of international trade per annum in 2010. In 2008, the United Nations estimated nearly 2.5 million people from 127 different countries are being trafficked into 137 countries around the world. Human trafficking is thought to be one of the fastest-growing activities of transnational criminal organizations.

According to data from an NGO entitled Centre for Girls, there have been 739 registered cases of human trafficking in Serbia from 2000 until 2013. Out of those, 92 were discovered in 2013 and 88 in the first half of 2014. The Centre for Girls emphasizes that these numbers are a serious warning and call for strong intersectoral collaboration.

In 2000, when the battle against human trafficking in Serbia intensified, this criminal act caused two major amendments to the Criminal Code of Serbia: the first time in 2003, when it was introduced into law and the second time in 2006, when it was extended to include unlawful border crossing and smuggling.

Law enforcement has a key role to play in institutional effectiveness against human trafficking.

The city of Nis police administration has encountered almost all forms of human trafficking over the past ten years. Among them are begging, sexual exploitation and child trafficking for adoption purposes, says Dusan Klikovac, Divisional Chief of the Department for Suppression of Human Trafficking in Nis. He says that the number of cases of human trafficking has been rising since the appearance of job advertizements seeking individuals to work abroad, namely in the construction industry.

New awareness-raising campaigns and training sessions for prosecutors were rolled out and should continue.

The network of local anti-trafficking teams expanded and is in place in 17 locations across the country. The draft anti-trafficking strategy 2013-2018 and Action Plan 2014-2015 are still pending adoption and a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary and victim-oriented approach remains to be developed in cooperation with NGOs.

The Centre for Protection of Victims of Human Trafficking needs to strengthen its capacity to be made fully operational. Victims need to be better identified and receive more assistance, support and protection and a shelter for victims of needs to be made operational. Police capacity to efficiently combat trafficking in human beings needs to be ensured, and its enforcement improved. Training modules for police, including border agents, need to be enhanced. The position of the National Coordinator should reflect a multi-disciplinary approach to the trafficking of human beings phenomenon.

Since 2000, NGOs, together with law enforcement, have played an active role in the fight against human trafficking.

Astra was the first local NGO to be launched. It was joined by approximately 15 other organizations in 2002.

As a part of our new series “InVite” – fast, quickly, speedily, or swiftly if you like, interviews, where we ask questions to politicians, musicians, artists, and everyone else of the public interest, today we are speaking with Ivana Radovic, Coordinator of Prevention and Education Program at Astra, a local NGO dedicated to eradication of human trafficking.

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