The European Anti-trafficking Day, 18 October, was celebrated as part of the XV Annual Symposium of Prosecutors in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The joint action of the European Union and the Council of Europe “Preventing and combating trafficking in human beings in Bosnia and Herzegovina" organised a panel on "Technologically facilitated trafficking in children”. The focus of the panel was to strengthen the capacities of legal experts to investigate and prosecute online exploitation of children.
The panel gathered twenty-five legal experts, who noted that trafficking in children is increasing in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is a severe violation of children’s rights, the experts underlined, adding that most victims are exploited for forced begging, primarily by family members. The COVID-19 pandemic has made children more vulnerable to online exploitation, which calls for innovative measures to prevent the risks.
Bojana Urumova, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Sarajevo, highlighted the alarming fact that in 2021, according to the official state data, 87.5% of potential human trafficking victims in Bosnia and Herzegovina were children. She called on all stakeholders to join efforts to better protect children from falling victim to modern-day slavery.
Supporting the domestic authorities and professionals to prevent and to combat child trafficking is one of the components of the joint European Union and Council of Europe action “Preventing and combating trafficking in human beings in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, implemented in the framework of the programme "Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019-2022". In 2021, the action published a research study on the phenomenon in Bosnia and Herzegovina and co-organised an online conference on protecting children from trafficking and exploitation in the Western Balkans.