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Studies and Reports


 Position of Human Trafficking Victims in Court Proceedings







Basic aim of the analysis was to overview the position of human trafficking victims in court proceedings, in order to be able to estimate the state of harmonization of domestic legislation with international standards in the field, efficiency and implementation of the existing legislation in practice, uniformity of judicial practice, as well as the effect of the implemented trainings for judiciary employees, all with the purpose of improving the position of human trafficking victims in court proceedings.

The analysis of legal practice is based on monitoring court trials for the crime of trafficking and on quantitative and qualitative analysis of court decisions issued in the course of 2013 in criminal court proceedings, either by first or second instance courts. A total of 39 criminal courts’ judgments were analysed which, among other things, dealt with human trafficking, 16 of which being first instance judgements and 23 appellate courts’ judgements. In analysing court decisions, the parameters crucial for the assessment of victims’ position were used, with the emphasis on the data on the victim and his/her hearing, decision on compensation claims, as well as the type and severity of penalties. Special attention in this section of the analysis was given to a final decision adopted in civil proceedings, which was the basis for the first ever compensation claim awarded and paid to a human trafficking victim in Serbia.

Results of the judicial practice analysis indicate that the position of human trafficking victims in court proceedings has not been significantly improved compared to what was evidenced by the 2011-2012 analyses, as there are still substantial challenges in realizing full protection of and respect for the rights of the victims before court. Legislation in the field of prosecution and criminal proceedings, largely harmonized with international standards, does not achieve its full and consistent implementation in practice. Basic rights of victims, such as the right to protection of privacy, right to assistance, counselling and informing about the rights and entitlement to free legal aid, as well as right to safety and compensation are still not realized to the extent which would provide minimum standard of protection to the victims of this serious crime.


Shadow over Serbia – NGO Report for the 55th CEDAW Committee Session 2013 (2013)





 Concluding observation

In this Shadow Report, women’s groups from Serbia in solidarity present critical systemic obstacles to women’s human rights protection: violence against women, trafficking in women, lesbian rights denial and militarization of UN R1325.  Also,  we  strongly  endorse  all  critical  inputs  expressed  by  other  NGOs, especially concerning Roma women, women with disabilities and internally displaced women with focus on internally displaced Roma women since this ground of their rights have been totally denied.

The report has submitted on the behalf of Autonomous Women’s Center, ASTRA, Women in Black, Labris and Voice of Difference.


Asylum Seekers from Serbia: Migration, Poverty and Risks of Trafficking in Human Beings







With a view of examining what is behind prejudices against and negative public image of people who seek asylum in certain countries of western and northern Europe, NGOs Group 484, ASTRA, Women’s Roma Center “Bibija” and Nexus – Vranje formed a research team to study reasons, motives and stories of life difficulties and hopes that drives seasonal migration of Roma citizens of Serbia in search for better life in the asylum system of EU countries. Report “Asylum Seekers from Serbia: Migration, Poverty and Risks of Trafficking in Human Beings” shows their experiences from this voyage, what they are faced with upon return, risks related to such migrations and their experience of exploitation, violence and trafficking in human beings.

Reflecting on the findings they made, members of the research team also tried to offer recommendations and solutions for policy makers which could lead to decrease in migration towards the borders of the European Union. These solutions cannot and must not be reduced to purse political risk of reintroduction of the visa regime. Instead of easy blame, shouldn’t we wonder where lies responsibility for such migration? Where is the problem: in thousands asylum requests submitted by the citizens ofSerbiaor in the reasons which made them submit such requests?

Report “Asylum Seekers from Serbia: Migration, Poverty and Risks of Trafficking in Human Beings” has been made within the project “Prevention of Human Trafficking in the Context of Asylum Seeking by Roma Population from theterritoryofSerbia” with support of the Government’s of Serbia Office for Human and Minority Rights.

The report is available only in Serbian. English summary


ASTRA’s Biannual Report 2010-2011 presents the principal aspects of our work and accomplishments in the previous two-year period, as well as an overview of the ten years of work of ASTRA SOS Hotline.

The monitoring of judicial practice in the area of trafficking in human beings was organized through the monitoring of selected trials before the competent courts in Serbia and through the analysis of court decisions in criminal proceedings involving human trafficking. The main goal of the analysis is to examine the position of victims of trafficking offences in criminal proceedings in order to assess the compliance of domestic regulations with international standards in this area, the efficiency and implementation of the existing regulations in practice, as well as the impact of education programs which professionals employed in the judiciary system passed to date. Objective consideration of the problems in practice is a basis for correcting the existing deficiencies through initiatives for amending or supplementing the existing laws or by lobbying and further education of judicial professionals for the sake of more efficient implementation of the existing regulations.

The results obtained so far indicate that a comprehensive approach to the protection of victims’ rights, interests and safety in legal proceedings, in particular in criminal proceedings, cannot be exercised without consistent implementation of the existing regulations and the engagement of all participants to the proceedings. Legal proceedings are still too lengthy. Secondary victimization of victims in criminal proceedings is almost inevitable. Victims are forced to wait for the trial session in the same room with the perpetrators, to make and repeat their statements in different stages of the process in spite of pressure and intimidation, faced with non-sensitized judges and lawyers. Protection measures for victims in the proceedings provided under the Criminal Procedure Code, such as the hearing without the presence of the accused, reading of statements made earlier or video recordings, as well as the provisions on the protected witness status.

The analysis of judicial practice through the monitoring of trials and court judgments had been conducted within the project “Protection of the Rights of Trafficking Victims through/and Provision of Legal Assistance” which ASTRA carried out in cooperation with the Netherland Helsinki Committee with support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MATRA).

  Labor Exploitation and Human Trafficking (2011)










Quantitative Research Report – TNS Medium GallupReport_TNSMediumGallup_Astra_FG_October_11

Focus Groups’ Report – TNS Medium Gallup

ASTRA’s Report on Human Trafficking in Serbia for the period 2000-2010 examines the  modalities of incorporation of the two most relevant international documents – UN Palermo Protocol and Council of Europe’s Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings in domestic legislation and solutions it envisages. Moreover, a great portion of the report is dedicated to the analysis of the practice which ASTRA as a civil society organization has witnessed from the very beginning of its work. The Report contains six annexes including the report on ASTRA SOS Hotline 2002-2010; the maps of recruitment points in Serbia and human trafficking routes across Serbia and Europe; the results of a survey on citizens’ perception of human trafficking in Serbia; the report on the SerbAz labor exploitation case; the report of discovered trafficking cases and activities undertaken by the police and social welfare centers in 2010 in towns where ASTRA Network member organizations operate.

The Report gives general and specific recommendations in the area of legislation, prevention and victim protection.

The Report has been created in Serbian and in English with the support of the European Union (EIDHR) and OAK Foundation.

ASTRA Biannual Report 2008 – 2009

ASTRA’s Biannual Report for the period 2008-2009 presents the principal aspects of work of our organization and gives an overview of activities through which ASTRA gave its contribution to the counter-trafficking effort in Serbia and beyond in the previous two years.

Alternative Reports on the Implementation of the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflicts to the Convention of the Rights of the Child in the Republic of Serbia (2010)

Alternative Reports on the Implementation of the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflicts to the Convention of the Rights of the Child were made by a coalition of civil society organizations composed by the Belgrade Center for Human Rights, JAZAS, VelikiMali, ASTRA, Atina, Youth Integration Center, Familia and Child Rights Center which coordinated coalition’s activities. The Reports were presented to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva in February 2010.

Alternative Report on the Implementation of the UN Convention against Torture (2008)

Alternative Report

Concluding Observations

An NGO coalition composed of ASTRA, Belgrade Center for Human Rights, Centre for Human Rights – Niš, Committee for Human Rights – Leskovac, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Humanitarian Law Centre and International Aid Network, produced regular Alternative Report on the Implementation of the UN Convention against Torture in the Republic of Serbia. Alternative reports shall be submitted every four years alongside regular State reports.

This report consists of two parts. In the first part, information provided follow the specific points given in the document List of issues to be considered during the examination of the initial report of the Republic of Serbia (CAT/C/SRB/1). Additional information concerning torture issues are presented at the end of the first part.

The second part gives a review of the report of State party Serbia, prepared by Centre for Human Rights – Niš.

The Report was examined at the 41st session of the UN Committee against torture in November 2008.


Alternative Report on the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (2008)
Children’s Alternative Report  CRC Alternative Report

Although former SFRY signed and ratified UN Convention on the Rights of the Child back in 1991, until 2007, the Republic of Serbia, as a successor, has not submitted its Initial Report on the implementation of the Convention in its territory.

Although this first Alternative Report covers a long fourteen-year period (1992-2006), during which the Serbian society underwent enormous social, political and economic changes and endured numerous crises and transformations, the analysis is focused on the period after year 2000. From the point of view of fulfillment of obligations undertaken by ratifying the Convention, all relevant areas have been analyzed, while ASTRA was in charge of the part of the Report addressing Articles 34 and 35 – sexual exploitation, kidnapping and child trafficking. The Alternative Report will be presented to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva in February 2008.

  Changes in the perception of children and adolescents on human trafficking in SerbiaComparative analysis of four public opinion polls NGO ASTRA

The issue of keeping the broadest public informed about the concept and the problem of human trafficking has always been the focal point of ASTRA, because it sets the principal guidelines for the development of other activities. In that sense, the children and the young are the most interesting, as a heterogeneous group, being the most common target of human traffickers. In the period March 2002 – 2012, by means of  ASTRA SOS Hotline, a total of 395 victims of human trafficking were identified, 140 (37%) of whom were children. Out of the total number of identified female victims of human trafficking, 133 (38.89%) accounted for girls who were underage at the time the exploitation occurred. Over 70% of the children who were involved in the chain of human trafficking were exposed to sexual exploitation, as the most widespread form of exploitation both in Serbia and globbally. The child victims of human trafficking are being recruited by persons trusted by the child (62.69%), usually by persons who should be their caretakers (35.23%). Serbia is by far the most frequent country of origin for the child victims of human trafficking, with 91% (131 children) identified victims originating from Serbia. More than a half of the identified children were exploited in Serbia, whereas in 47% of the cases the entire process, from recruiting to exploitation of a minor, took place in Serbia. The average age of the child victims identified over the past ten years is approximately 15 years (14.83 %).

ASTRA Biannual Report 2006-2007

ASTRA’s Biannual Report for the period 2006-2007 presents the principal aspects of work of our organization and gives an overview of activities through which ASTRA gave its contribution to the counter-trafficking effort in Serbia and beyond in the previous two years.

Alternative report to the CEDAW Committee (2007)

Alternative Report    Concluding Comments

The Alternative Report on the Implementation of the UN Convention against Discrimination against Women in Serbia for 1992-2006 was prepared by Belgrade-based NGO Voice of Difference, in cooperation with Autonomous Women’s Center, ASTRA, Incest Trauma Center and Women in Black. The report was presented to the CEDAW Committee in May 2007.

Human (Child) Trafficking – A Look Through the Internet Window (2006)

With the support of OSCE Mission to Serbia, ASTRA has published a research “Human (Child) Trafficking – A Look Through the Internet Window”. This publication examines the issue of recruitment of human trafficking victims over the Internet.

The publication presents the findings of the following surveys:

- Human (child) trafficking in the print media – the analysis of content of the print media in Serbia

- Secondary school pupils in Serbia – human trafficking, the Internet, specific needs and problems in use: a survey into secondary school population in Serbia

- Are Internet chat room safe places? – a field research

- Human (child) trafficking and Internet recruitment – an assumption or a preventable reality – interviews with local Internet Service Providers

- International and domestic legal framework – a comparative analysis

This multi-aspect approach enabled us to look at different aspects of the problem, because each section studied the topic of the research from its angle, attempting to find a link between the Internet and human trafficking.

ASTRA Biannual Report 2004-2005

This is a biannual report on ASTRA’s work for the period 2004/05. It gives an overview of the activities that ASTRA conducted in the area of prevention and direct assistance to victims of trafficking in human beings.

Alternative Report to the Committee for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2005)
Alternative Report   Concluding Observations

An NGO coalition, consisting of Child Rights Center, Belgrade Center for Human Rights, Group 484 and ASTRA, created an Alternative Report on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Serbia and Montenegro, which was presented before the Committee for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on 13 May 2005.

After the session, the Committee released recommendations with regard to official state report, taking into account the state of affairs as presented in the Alternative Report by the NGO coalition.

Alternative Report to the UN Human Rights Committee (2004)
Alternative Report   Concluding Observations

World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), the largest international coalition of NGOs fighting against torture, summary executions, forced disappearances and all other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and Geneva-based Violence against Women Programme, invited ASTRA, Child Rights Center and Humanitarian Law Center to become a part of the project funded by the European Commission, to reinforce the prevention and monitoring of torture through the strengthening of the capacity of the SOS-Torture network members in the use of the United Nations conventional mechanisms and mainstreaming women’s and children’s issues in general human rights mechanisms.

A briefing session with the members of the Human Rights Committee was held on July 16, 2004 and government delegation presented the Report on July 19 and 20, 2004. Members of the Committee were more than satisfied with NGO presentation and most of the concluding remarks concerned the same issues that NGOs raised during the briefing session.

In October 2004, “State Violence in Serbia and Montenegro”, an Alternative Report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee was released, after which two roundtables were organized with assistance of the UNHCHR Belgrade Office: the one gathering the representatives of NGOs and international organizations, with whom we exchanged experiences from Geneva, and the other intended for state representatives, who presented their report in Geneva, to discuss together the recommendations which UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva released after the session on Serbia and Montenegro.

ASTRA Biannual Report 2002-2003

This Report covers years 2002 – 2003, i.e. period between the moment of the formal founding of the organization and the change of its organizational structure.

What has marked this period a kind of personnel and program continuity, as well as characteristic image and identity of the organization.

This was the real beginning, full of enthusiasm, when we set up the structure of our work, the beginning as accumulation of experiences and a taste of first successes. This will remain ASTRA’s permanent legacy.

Survey on the picture of sex trafficking in mass media (2003)

Available only in Serbian

This Survey was conducted on the sample of 240 articles published in daily newspapers in the period between 1998 and 2001, and in 2002. Here are some of the findings:

- The number of articles addressing this issue in 2002 were three times higher than in four previous years.

- The issue of trafficking in children inspired far less attention than trafficking in women.

- The largest number of published articles was in reaction to specific events related to trafficking in women (police actions in the country and in the region, specific public scandals etc.), while far less articles addressed the topic in a investigating manner.

- The problem was approached to in a sensationalistic fashion.

- Imprecise and “exotic” terms are used.

- Emphasis is laid upon the ethnic origin of trafficking victims.

Survey on attitudes of Belgrade students and secondary school pupils about sex trafficking (2002)

Available only in Serbian

This Survey was conducted through a questionnaire in April 2002 on the random sample of 173 respondents of both genders, 91 of whom were secondary school pupils and 82 students.

The Survey aimed to examine whether and in what way this specific population was acquainted with the problem and whether there were qualitative and quantitative differences in attitudes of secondary school pupils and students. The questions were designed so as to get a perspective of what the youth know and think about the following:

- Are women – victims of violence to blame for their situation?

- Should they be prosecuted, and if so, what would be the appropriate sentence?

- Should persons who organize trafficking in women be prosecuted, and if so, what would be the appropriate sentence?

- Should persons who use the services of women – victims of sex trafficking be prosecuted, and if so, what would be the appropriate sentence? And finally,

- How can the society prevent trafficking in women?

The results showed that the entire sample was not acquainted enough with the concept of trafficking in women (it is usually confused or equated with some other terms), as well as with the judiciary system of our country. Students are prone to think that the victims of trafficking are the victims of fraud, that they should not be prosecuted and that the methods for prevention of this problem should be reintegration and resocialization. Secondary school pupils have a tendency to think that these women are the victims of forced prostitution, that the organizer is responsible for it, and see radical sentences as a solution.

Survey on the practice of the petty-offence authority in Belgrade with regard to prostitution and (il)legal migrations as incidents which may hide human trafficking (2003)

Available only in Serbian

This Survey was conducted by the Association of Petty Offense Officers (magistrates) of the Republic of Serbia (

The subject of the Survey were final rulings made in 2002 by the Belgrade Petty Offence Authority pursuant to Article 14 of the Law on Public Order and Peace of the Republic of Serbia (which governs prostitution) and Articles 106 and 107 of the Law on Movement and Stay of Foreigners on the Territory of FRY (which governs illegal migration).

The sample encompassed a total of 753 files in which women were sentenced. The Survey aimed to examine the profile of the accused as potential victims of trafficking in human beings, for the sake of education of petty offense officers and other state authorities involved in order to teach them to recognize the victims of human trafficking. The profile of the accused women was analyzed in terms of their age, citizenship, education level, marital status, parental status, the type of sentence, the way in which they entered the country, etc. However, it was not possible to draw specific conclusions on the number of women sentenced pursuant to the mentioned laws who were potential victims of trafficking in human beings.

Child Trafficking (2003)

In cooperation with Save the Children Romania, within the project “Trafficking in Children in Central and Eastern Europe and in Baltic Countries”, ASTRA conducted the first national survey and made a report on the situation of trafficking in children in Serbia.

The report has suggested that the problem of trafficking in children is not visible enough in Serbia, while many forms of trafficking in children remain unrecognized. Institutions still do not maintain trafficking in children as a special category in their statistics, and for all these reasons, it was very difficult to collect detailed data on this issue.