The US State Department report on human trafficking which covered 187 states, commended Serbia for sentencing several human traffickers, creating a working group for dealing with the crime and consolidating the investigative jurisdiction over the cases of human trafficking, the Beta news agency reported on Friday.
The report said Serbia’s Government increased efforts in protecting the victims, identifying a number of them and opening a centre for the urgent admission after a five-year delay.
However, it added that the Government did not have a system of consistently forwarding the cases to the prosecution or judges experienced in the crime.
In the “Human Trafficking in 2019” report, the State Department said the prosecutors tended to lessen the cases of human trafficking for sexual abuse to soliciting prostitution, and warned about a sensitive vulnerable migrants’ position in the regional countries, Radio Free Europe reported.
The report also warned about thousands of migrants from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other countries who were in transit through Serbia and Bosnia, or stuck there becoming vulnerable to human trafficking.
The Western Balkans countries were generally described as those which did not meet minimum standards for the eradication of human trafficking though were trying to.
Montenegro was praised for adopting the 2019-2024 National strategy for fighting against human trafficking and the Action plan for this year.
At the same time, the report added Podgorica did not convict anyone for the crime in line with the law in the past five years, neither it had launched a single criminal proceeding, saying the country remained on the watched list for the third consecutive year.
In part concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina, the report said the authorities did not show any serious efforts following last years’ document. The respective law institutions did not have enough capacity and knowledge and continued to investigate smaller incidents, while the judges were passing the verdicts below the minimum punishment for human trafficking, stating some unreasonable “mitigating circumstances” to justify lesser penalties.
The Government identified a smaller number of victims and did not protect them. Instead, the victims were punished for what the traffickers forced them to do.
The report also noted that Bosnia’s authorities said that human traffickers managed to avoid jail by using the law stipulating that the convicts could pay a 100 convertible marks per day (some 50 Euros) if sentenced up to a year.
That’s why Bosnia and Herzegovina remains on the list of the countries which should be carefully watched, RFE said quoting the State Department report.