Anti-trafficking NGO ASTRA, Serbia: ‘The State Does Not Help Trafficking Victims’
For trafficked victims the hell does not end when they get out of the trafficking chain. According to extensive research that has been done for the last 10 years by Serbian anti-trafficking NGO ASTRA budgetary allocations for victim assistance do not exist when putting aside salaries of the employees in the institutions that should be working on improvement of the aid for trafficking victims. ASTRA recently published a Ten-Year Report on Human Trafficking in Serbia which concluded that the Serbian government does not provide sufficient, efficient, nor systemically organized support to trafficking victims.
The Report covers the period 2000-2010 and explains that one of the greatest problems that is faced by trafficking victims is insufficient physical safety and the impossibility to find a job after getting out of the trafficking chain and thus provide for themselves and their families. Trials against traffickers are too long, making it difficult for victims to rebuild their lives after the traumatic experience they have survived.
According to ASTRA victims are under great pressure since they are expected to recover instantly from everything they have survived, testify against the traffickers and make them go to jail. One of the recommendations in the Report is to simplify the procedure for victims’ for obtaining financial social assistance and to improve their access to health care.
ASTRA is currently implementing a 3-year MATRA project called ‘Promotion of the Rights of Trafficked Persons in Serbia with Emphasis on Legal Support – A Human Rights Based Approach’, together with the Netherlands Helsinki Committee.
Through this project the project partners aim to improve the human rights of trafficked persons in Serbia by timely informing the victims of their rights as victims and witnesses. The project also aims at proper representation of victims in criminal and civil procedures.
One of the activities is an intensive training for a group of 30 lawyers from all over Serbia in proper representation of trafficking victims in criminal, civil and other proceedings before domestic and international courts.