26.06.2008, Source: Blic
BUDVA – Montenegrin police discovered yesterday a family from Aleksinac who brought their children and children of their relatives to Budva for begging. Truck, in which 24 persons were found, 19 of whom children age 2 to 17, was stopped at Adriatic Highway, near Vidikovac, Budva.
Driver and assistant driver Slaviša S. (30) and Toplica S. (28) and their wives and older relative were in the truck. Montenegrin police suspected Slaviša and Toplica for organizing and taking their and children of their relatives to Budva for begging. In Montenegrin police we found out that Slaviša and Toplica can not be prosecuted for criminal act exploiting children for forced begging, but for breaking the law on public order.
– They could not be charged for human trafficking as they are family with children – “Blic” finds out in Montenegrin police.
Slaviša and Toplica were fined 300 euros by the Law on public order, for organizing and leading into begging. After pronouncing a sentence they were released, but they are filed in the register of beggars.
This action of the Montenegrin police, called “Beggar”, started recently in Podgorica, and then spread to other towns, especially tourist destinations. Minor beggars that were found in Podgorica were temporary accommodated in Center for children and youth „Ljubović”. Police arrested one citizen of Serbia I.J. two weeks ago, suspected for leading his younger (minor) brother into begging.
Beside tourists, Budva and other coast towns attract many beggars. Police estimates that over 400 beggars come to Budva from Montenegrin provinces or from Serbia. Beside reach Russians and other foreigners, one can also see children, mothers with babies and people with disabilities in streets begging for “only 10 cents”.
To women they show palm and say:
– You are as beautiful as Kasandra. May God give you pretty husband, lots of money and four children.
Many families, sheltered in refugee camps in Podgorica, switch to “summer vacation” in tents next to hotels and exclusive restaurants in Budva. Whole families are begging and earn tens of euros per day.
Although the police suspects that begging is organized, it is hard to prove. Begging in the streets, according to law, is only a violation, while criminal responsibility is anticipated only for organizers, who are mostly foreign citizens. Some groups, unofficially one is from Novi Sad, have over 50 children under their “protection”. They are begging in Buda and “earn” in one season several tens of thousands of euros. Although almost everyone in Budva knew about this group, organizers however were not identified. Namely, none of minor beggars will discover who is taking money from them, whether they are physically or mentally abused, or of they were “bought” from parents. This narrows the work of the police to prosecute someone older for organizing begging or even for human trafficking.