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Human Trafficking in Serbia - Report for the Period 2000-2010


( ASTRA) - ASTRA: Anti Trafficking Action has presented its Report on Human Trafficking in Serbia for the period 2000-2010. Besides the analysis of modalities of incorporation of the two most relevant international documents - UN Palermo Protocol and Council of Europe's Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings in domestic legislation and solutions it envisages, a great portion of the report is dedicated to the analysis of the practice which ASTRA as a civil society organization has witnessed from the very beginning of its work.


The Report contains six annexes including the report on ASTRA SOS Hotline 2002-2010; the maps of recruitment points in Serbia and human trafficking routes across Serbia and Europe; the results of a survey on citizens' perception of human trafficking in Serbia; the report on the SerbAz labor exploitation case; the report of discovered trafficking cases and activities undertaken by the police and social welfare centers in 2010 in towns where ASTRA Network member organizations operate.


Compared with 2000, the situation regarding the anti-trafficking mechanism in Serbia is improved significantly. However, it is far from the level of effectiveness and efficiency which we have aspired and hoped for when we started in 2000. Changes that are the most visible and easiest to measure refer to the legal framework for criminalization and punishing for human trafficking.


Until 2003, Serbian criminal legislation did not recognize human trafficking as a criminal offence. At that time trafficked women who were foreign nationals were mostly sentenced to jail for engaging in prostitution and/or were deported to the country from which they entered Serbia without any regard to their safety either during deportation or at the destination of return. Since the first criminalization of human trafficking, the definition of the offence changed several times, as well as punishments. Today there is a well defined definition and a basic punishment ranging from 3 to 12 years in prison without possibility of suspended sentence.


Although Serbia has been identifying much more trafficking victims compared to its neighbors, according to various estimates and analyses by the police and researchers, as well as according to actors directly involved in combating human trafficking, there is an enormous gray figure, particularly among Serbian nationals who are exploited in foreign countries who often remain invisible both to the police and to specialized victim assistance organizations.


Psychologists assess the trauma suffered by trafficking victims in the course of exploitation similar to the trauma experienced in concentration camps. When the victim manages to get out of the trafficking chain, with the help of the police, friends, clients, by escaping or in some other way, he/she is expected to recover quickly, help the prosecution of traffickers as much as he/she can and then continue his/her life as if nothing happened. Because of the lack of support and sustainable long-term reintegration programs it is very difficult for victims to successfully recover and (re)integrate into society, which is the reason why they remain vulnerable for re-trafficking for a long period of time.


The Report contains both general and specific recommendations in the area of legislation, prevention and victim protection.


The Report has been created by a group of authors and associates who have been involved in the monitoring and analysis of different aspects of this complex social problem. The majority of data have been gathered through ASTRA SOS Hotline, which has been operational since March 2002 as the only hotline service specialized for human trafficking. More than 13,000 calls have been received in this period and 360 trafficking victims were identified and/or assisted, mostly girls and young women exposed to sexual exploitation; children account for 38% of all victims assisted by ASTRA.


The Report has been created in Serbian and in English with the support of the European Union (EIDHR) and OAK Foundation. The Report is also available in electronic form.