Sat, May 25 2013
Countries in South-Eastern Europe have achieved varying levels of progress against people trafficking, going by the findings of the United States state department 2008 report to congress on people trafficking.
While some countries, including Croatia and Macedonia, were classified as having achieved "tier 1" status, meaning that they complied fully with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, others were classed as tier 2, meaning that while they did not comply, progress was being made.
Croatia was described in the report, released on June 8 2008, as a source, transit, and increasingly a destination country, for women and girls trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
"Croatian females are trafficked within the country and women and girls from Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and other parts of Eastern Europe are trafficked to and through Croatia for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Croatian men are occasionally trafficked for forced labour. Victims transiting Croatia from Southeastern Europe are trafficked into Western Europe for commercial sexual exploitation," the report said.
The report said that the International Organisation for Migration had reported continued seasonal rotation of international women in prostitution to and from the Dalmatian coast during high tourist seasons, raising concerns about trafficking.
The government of Croatia fully complied with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, the report said. Croatia's government continued to pursue a comprehensive victim-centered approach in response to trafficking in 2007.
Croatia had doubled the number of trafficking convictions, significantly reduced its use of suspended sentences for convicted traffickers, continued its proactive law enforcement training, and initiated new public awareness raising projects during the reporting period.
The report recommended that Croatia seek to toughen sentences imposed on convicted traffickers, and continue efforts to enhance proactive identification of women in prostitution and of migrants who transit the country legally.
Greece, classified in the report as a tier 2 country, was a destination and transit country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labour.
"Women are trafficked from Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Africa for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour. Source countries over the reporting period include Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Lithuania, Moldova, Ukraine, Albania, Nigeria, and Sudan. Some Albanian men are trafficked to Greece for forced labour," the report said.
"Most children trafficked from Albania to Greece are subjected to forced labour, including forced begging and petty crimes; some are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Reportedly, trafficking of Nigerian victims for the purposes of sexual exploitation continued to increase and some victims were forced to marry traffickers or their associates to `legalise' their status in the country," the report said.
It said that the government of Greece did not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; but was making significant efforts to do so.
"While Greece continued to fund prevention programs in source countries, co-sponsor anti-trafficking training, and provide for domestic shelters in Greece, long-standing recommendations in previous reports concerning victim identification, victim protection, and punishment for traffickers remain unaddressed," the report said.
"Greece has yet to ratify a 2004 child repatriation agreement negotiated with Albania, shelters remain under-utilised, and convicted traffickers are not serving imposed sentences. Inadequate protection of both identified and potential trafficking victims remain serious concerns."
The report recommended that Greece continue collaboration with NGOs in victim identification; ensure better protection for children who are victims of trafficking, including ratification of the agreement with Albania; proactively investigate and prosecute as appropriate reports of law enforcement officials' complicity in trafficking; ensure traffickers serve time in prison, deterring exploitation of additional victims in Greece; ensure witnesses are provided with adequate protection and assistance throughout the investigation; and ensure prosecution of their traffickers.
Macedonia, classified as a tier 1 country, was a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation, the report said.
"Macedonian women and children are trafficked internally, mostly from eastern rural areas to urban bars in western Macedonia. Victims trafficked into Macedonia are primarily from Serbia and Albania. Macedonian victims and victims transiting through Macedonia are trafficked to South Central and Western Europe, including Bosnia, Serbia, Italy, and Sweden."
The Macedonian government fully complied with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and had made marked progress during the past year, the report said.
Macedonia had it improved its capacity to identify and protect victims, resulting in a greatly increased number of victims identified and significantly more victims offered and provided assistance. The government's aggressive prosecution efforts resulted in an increased number of traffickers convicted.
The state department report recommended that Macedonia needed to show "appreciable progress" in victim protection and assistance, including increased funding to the shelters for domestic victims and sustained assistance to NGOs providing victim services; proactively implement the new standard operating procedures on victim identification and the new reflection period for foreign victims; vigorously prosecute traffickers under the improved anti-trafficking legislation and sentencing guidelines, ensuring convicted traffickers receive adequate jail time; continue to vigorously prosecute any trafficking-related corruption; and expand demand reduction awareness efforts to educate clients of the sex trade about trafficking.
In January 2008, the Macedonian government amended its criminal code, adding harsher penalties for those who traffic or attempt to traffic minors and for those who use the services of trafficked victims, to address the full range of trafficking crimes and satisfy the requirements of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons.
In 2007, the Macedonian government prosecuted 55 cases related to trafficking, and convicted 70 traffickers involved in 30 cases, a significant improvement from 54 convictions in 18 cases the previous year.
Macedonia also refined how its judicial system addresses trafficking as part of an overall restructuring of its judiciary during the reporting period, including the creation of a new central office to coordinate all trafficking prosecutions nationwide and streamlining trafficking cases to a single court.
The government upheld on appeal in May 2007 sentences imposed on two policemen in 2006 for trafficking-related crimes. In March 2008, the government began prosecuting a January 2007 case involving five policemen and a ministry of justice official charged with complicity in smuggling.
The government of Macedonia considerably increased its efforts to identify trafficking victims and identified 249 victims 152 foreign nationals and 97 Macedonian in 2007 compared to 17 in 2006, the report said.
Montenegro, put on the report's tier 2 watch list, was primarily a transit country for the trafficking of women and girls to Western Europe for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation, the report said.
In 2007, there were no reports of Montenegrins being trafficked to other countries. There were a small number of cases in which women and girls were trafficked into Montenegro. Women and girls from Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Romania, Ukraine, and Russia are trafficked across Montenegro to Western European countries. Official statistics noted that one Montenegrin woman was trafficked within the country for sexual exploitation. Children are coerced into begging.
The report said that Montenegro was put on the tier 2 watch list for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking in people over the last year.
"Public attention to the issue of trafficking has diminished considerably in Montenegro in recent years; however, according to NGOs and international observers, official statistics underreport the incidence of trafficking, and authorities need to focus more attention on the problem," the report said.
The report recommended that Montenegro "vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offences to the full extent of the law, and convict and sentence trafficking offenders, including any public officials complicit in trafficking; proactively identify victims among vulnerable groups, such as women arrested for prostitution violations, undocumented migrants, and street children; provide legal alternatives to victims' removal to countries in which they face retribution or hardship; encourage victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenders; and conduct trafficking sensitivity training for judiciary officials".
Romania, which like its neighbour Bulgaria was classified as tier 2, was a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour.
"Romanian men, women, and children are trafficked to Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Greece, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Turkey, Austria, and Israel for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour in the agriculture, construction, and hotel industries," the report said.
There has been an increase in trafficking of persons from Romania for labour exploitation, likely related to Romania's entrance into the European Union and new opportunities for Romanians from rural parts of the country to work abroad, according to the report.
"Romanian men, women, and children are also trafficked internally for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, and forced begging. Women from Moldova, Ukraine, and Russia are trafficked to Romania for commercial sexual exploitation. Men from other European countries may travel to Romania to sexually exploit Romanian children."
The report said that in 2007, the Romanian government, led by the National Agency against Trafficking in Persons (NAATIP), made efforts to combat child sex tourism and provided some funding to NGOs providing victim assistance.
"Nonetheless, the government was not able to report significant efforts to address labour trafficking, since this was a newly identified phenomenon, or to institute formal procedures to identify victims of trafficking throughout the country and refer them to service providers. The number of trafficking convictions remained stable; however, the government reported a significant decrease in the total number of trafficking prosecutions, and the number of traffickers serving time in prison also decreased."
The report said that Romania should take concerted steps to investigate and punish acts of trafficking for forced labour; increase efforts to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders; sustain efforts to ensure convicted sex traffickers receive adequate punishments; increase efforts to investigate and punish acts of government officials' complicity in trafficking; develop and employ a uniform national victim identification and referral system; and train police to ensure that victims are identified and not inappropriately fined or otherwise penalised.
Serbia, classified by the report as a tier 2 country, was a source, transit, and destination country for women and girls trafficked transnationally and internally for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.
"Foreign victims are trafficked to Serbia from Macedonia, Ukraine, Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Albania, and the People's Republic of China. Serbia continued to serve as a transit country for victims trafficked from Bosnia, Croatia, and Slovenia and destined for Italy and other countries in Western Europe.
"Internal sex trafficking of Serbian women and girls continued to increase, comprising more than three-fourths of trafficking cases in 2007," the report said.
Some children continued to be trafficked into forced labour or forced street begging. According to NGOs and law enforcement, efforts to shut down known brothels continued to prompt traffickers to better conceal victims of trafficking.
The Serbian government had increased national funding for combating trafficking in persons, actively investigated trafficking, prosecuted high-level cases, and took a step in addressing trafficking-related corruption by investigating and charging a state prosecutor for complicity.
"During the reporting period, the government improved its capacity to assist trafficking victims via the establishment of 11 new municipal teams made up of government officials and NGO representatives.
"An inefficient judicial system resulted in trials that lasted months or years, and convicted traffickers continued to delay serving their sentences, sometimes by several years, by filing multiple appeals. This sometimes resulted in convicted traffickers remaining free and possibly continuing to exploit victims," the report said.
Sentences continued to be light in many cases, and did not serve to deter trafficking in Serbia. Although the government expanded its training program to educate law enforcement how to identify victims, concerns remained about victims sometimes not correctly identified and punished as a result of being trafficked, the report said.
The report recommended that Serbia pass implementing legislation as part of the national judicial reform plan, which will streamline the judicial process and ensure convicted traffickers serve their sentences soon after sentencing; continue to address trafficking- related corruption by vigorously prosecuting and punishing officials who facilitate trafficking; amend the penal code to raise minimum penalties for trafficking; provide evidence of vigorous prosecution, conviction, and sentencing of traffickers via comprehensive law enforcement data; implement measures in the National Strategy to Combat Trafficking in Persons, such as the protocol for victim identification and referral; include NGOs in the initial identification phase for potential victims; develop programs to assist the increasingly growing problem of children who are victims of trafficking; and improve prevention efforts, including efforts to reduce demand for commercial sex.
The report classified Turkey was a tier 2 country, saying that it was "a significant destination, and to a lesser extent, transit country for women and children trafficked primarily for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation".
Women and girls were trafficked from Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Romania for sexual exploitation. Some victims are reportedly trafficked through Turkey to the area administered by Turkish Cypriots for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
The government of Turkey had significantly increased its law enforcement response in 2007 by convicting and punishing more traffickers, according to the report.
It further improved interagency and NGO co-operation and continued to institutionalise and implement comprehensive law enforcement training, the report said.
"In addition, the government of Turkey made efforts to address trafficking-related official complicity among law enforcement. However, a lack of secure and consistent government support for Turkey's trafficking shelters frustrated solid improvements in Turkey's anti-trafficking efforts," the report said.
The state department report said that Turkey should ensure consistent and sustained assistance for trafficking victims, including through sustained monetary assistance to shelters in Ankara and Istanbul; expand non-detention facilities for potential victims and other irregular migrants awaiting screening; strive to ensure that all potential victims are identified; address demand reduction and educate the clients of the commercial sex trade and forced labour in trafficking public awareness campaigns; vigorously investigate, prosecute, convict, and punish any official complicity in trafficking; and continue to improve the effectiveness of judicial co-operation with source countries.
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