BiH tightens up anti-trafficking laws

17/09/2013

In the last five years, BiH's authorities identified about 150 human trafficking victims, while the courts issued sentences in 18 cases for the criminal offence.

By Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo -- 17/09/13

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Police chiefs said that human trafficking is always connected with prostitution and that police must co-operate to achieve results. [AFP]

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) added criminal law amendments that impose stricter sentences for human trafficking criminals as part of the country's continuous effort against human trafficking.

"If a victim of trafficking is a minor, the penalty is increased from five to 10 years in prison. If the victim is an adult, the penalty is increased from three to five years in prison. These modifications were made in accord with the 2011 EU Directive on Preventing and Fighting Trafficking. The law will go into effect immediately after the state parliament adopts it," Marina Bakic, spokeswoman for the BiH justice ministry, told SETimes.

According to the July 2013 US State Department report on human trafficking, BiH, Serbia and Montenegro were described as ''a source, destination and transit countries for men, women and children who are subjected to trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced labour."

In the report, the State Department urged BiH to continue harmonisation of state and entity regulation to explicitly criminalise all forms of human trafficking, and vigorously carry out the investigation and access to criminal prosecution in cases of complicity in trafficking.

Police chiefs pointed out that human trafficking is always connected with prostitution and that authorities need to co-operate to achieve results.

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''Many nightclubs were closed down for this reason in the last several years. BiH made certain progress when it comes to this criminal act. However, things can always be better, victims of human trafficking come from around world, but mostly from the region. That's why the police from the Balkans must co-operate more and better to combat human trafficking,'' Gojko Vasic, director of the Republika Srpska police department, told SETimes.

In 2011, the Serbian police identified 78 victims of human trafficking and filed 25 criminal complaints against 43 perpetrators.

''The good news is that the BiH law changed, but special attention should be paid to the victims of trafficking. Next month, our association will launch an initiative which will enable the victims to receive legal assistance and obtain the compensation for suffering. In BiH, trafficking still functions systematically, although there are sporadic cases. Victims are often minors and pretty girls who, upon recruitment, are blackmailed, intimidated, drugged, and introduced to the job," Mara Radovanovic, chief co-ordinator of the Association Ring, NGO network battling trafficking, told SETimes.

In addition to new regulations, how can the state increase its anti-trafficking efforts? Let us know below.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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