In its third-round evaluation report published today, the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) welcomes Bosnia and Herzegovina’s improved legislative and policy anti-human trafficking framework, but calls for strengthened implementation, in particular in terms of victims’ access to justice and effective remedies.
The report, based on a GRETA visit to the country in September last year and information provided by the authorities and civil society, notes that most of the 306 potential victims of human trafficking, identified in the period 2017-2021, were children exploited for begging. GRETA urges the authorities to strengthen the prevention of child trafficking, including by providing adequate financial support to day-care centres for children in street situations.
GRETA stresses that as soon as a potential victim of trafficking is identified, the authorities should provide that person with legal assistance and instructions about the right to legal representation. Moreover, GRETA considers that victims should have effective access to the labour market and be provided with vocational training and job placement to boost their social and economic inclusion.
Access to compensation remains rare and GRETA calls on the authorities to ensure that trafficking victims obtain a decision on compensation from the offender as part of the criminal trial as well as to set up a state compensation scheme.
GRETA welcomes the adoption of specific legal provisions on the non-punishment of human trafficking victims in all jurisdictions for offences committed as a result of being trafficked, but notes the need to develop guidance and provide training to police officers and prosecutors on the implementation of these provisions.
The number of human trafficking prosecutions and convictions remains low, with perpetrators generally receiving sentences below the statutory minimum. According to the Council of Europe’s anti-trafficking expert group, this calls for strengthening of the criminal justice response to ensure effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.
The authorities should also provide labour inspectorates with sufficient staff and resources, so that they could play an effective role in the front-line prevention of trafficking for labour exploitation and the identification of victims.