STRASBOURG - Women account for 43 percent of victims of human trafficking in Serbia, with children accounting for 42 percent, the Council of Europe's Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) has said in a report, according to which most of the cases are linked to prostitution.
In its first report on human trafficking in Serbia, GRETA welcomes the measures taken by the authorities through developing a comprehensive legal and political framework and forming specialised structures.
In the report, seen by Tanjug, GRETA commends the implementation of the previous action plan and the inclusion of the civil society in the preparation of a new national strategy and action plan.
The Serbian authorities must ensure correct identification of all human trafficking victims and provide them with assistance envisioned by the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and the law, the report says.
Serbia is also expected to ensure a quick recovery of the victims, and also to make sure that they are provided with residence permits and paid damages, GRETA says.
In the report, GRETA particularly notes the importance of protecting victims and witnesses of human trafficking from any retaliation or intimidation during investigations or trials.
All professionals who may come into contact with victims of human trafficking must be kept informed continually and trained with respect to the need to implement the approach based on human rights in action against human trafficking, according to the Convention and the practices of the European Court of Human Rights, the report says.
Cases of human trafficking that occurred in Novi Pazar in 2007 and in Sombor in 2011 involved members of the police force who recruited young women for sexual exploitation, but have subsequently been convicted of those crimes, the report says.
GRETA commends the efforts of the Serbian authorities in international cooperation, urging them to continue to develop and enhance the position of the Roma in Serbia and prevent human trafficking of members of the Roma population.
The Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings was adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in 2005, and Serbia started to implement it in 2009.
In 2009, 107 cases of human trafficking were uncovered in Serbia, with 61 cases uncovered in 2010.
In 2011, 76 such cases were uncovered, with another 79 uncovered in 2012.
Most of the victims were Serbs, with Switzerland, Germany and Italy as the main destinations of the trafficking.
Most of the cases were linked to sexual exploitation, but there were also cases of trafficking for forced labour, begging, crime and illegal adoption.
Unofficial data for 2013 show that 60 percent of human trafficking is conducted internally, with women and girls accounting for 80 percent of the victims.