Human TraffickingNews

Serbia urged to strengthen criminal justice response to human trafficking, improve assistance to victims

Over the past five years, several legislative changes relevant for combatting trafficking in human beings were adopted in Serbia. However, further steps are needed to ensure effective access of victims to justice and effective remedies, said the Council of Europe’s anti-trafficking body GRETA in the new report.

The report welcomes the steps taken by the Serbian authorities to further develop the anti-trafficking legislative framework. These include the introduction in the Law on Foreigners of a recovery and reflection period and a temporary residence permit based on humanitarian grounds for victims of trafficking, as well as provisions related to victims of trafficking in the Law on Health Care and the Law on Free Legal Aid. Another positive development is the establishment of the position of National Rapporteur on human trafficking, to be fulfilled by the Ombudsman.

However, the report stresses that further steps are needed to ensure better access of victims of trafficking to justice and effective remedies. In particular, lawyers representing victims of trafficking should have knowledge of trafficking issues, and the costs of legal aid and legal assistance provided via NGOs should be reimbursed by the State.

Victims’ access to compensation remains rare, and therefore GRETA calls on the authorities to ensure that victims of trafficking are systematically informed of their right to compensation and to make full use of the legislation on the seizure and confiscation of assets from perpetrators in order to secure compensation for victims. The authorities should also set up without further delay a state compensation scheme accessible to victims of trafficking.