The research Migrants with irregular status in the Republic of Serbia – current issues and prospects focuses on the position of irregular migrants and the response of the competent authorities to irregular movements that take place on the territory of the Republic of Serbia, with special emphasis on women, identification of gender-based violence and the risk of human trafficking. The document is intended to provide a proposal of measures to be taken to improve the established practice, through the analysis of the legislative framework related to irregular migration, the position of women and the combating of human trafficking, as well as the analysis of the practice of punishing people for illegal border crossing or stay on the territory of the Republic of Serbia, the court practice in regard to the offense of human smuggling, as well as the procedure for returning third country nationals. Additionally, due to the strategic orientation of the Republic of Serbia towards full membership in the European Union, the document aims to provide an overview of the key standards in related areas that are in effect in the European Union, as well as the practice of Member States, all in accordance with the priorities that are imposed on the Republic of Serbia in the accession process.
The collection of statistical data and realization of field visits and interviews has been carried out in the period from June 2015 to June 2016. Over 20 interviews with representatives of key competent authorities, international and civil society organizations, have been carried out. In the same period, statistical data from 43 misdemeanor courts and 16 courts of general jurisdiction have been collected. The statistical data for 2015 should be interpreted with due attention, since more than 600,000 persons have transited through our country, which is, without any doubt, an atypical situation. Although, in the recent months, we are talking about several thousand persons residing on the territory of the Republic of Serbia, the issue of asylum and migration still needs to be considered on two levels: the migration-refugee crisis, which undoubtedly continues, albeit with clearly different characteristics, but also in the context of the reform processes whose implementation the Republic of Serbia undertook with the strategic commitment to the EU full member status.
In the concluding remarks, it is emphasized that there are many open questions regarding migrations that have intensively taken place on European soil during the last year, while a comprehensive and well-rounded response of the European Union has not yet been agreed upon, and that, at the moment, it cannot be foreseen with great certainty how the areas of asylum and migration will be managed in the near future. However, there are indications that the newly established system will be even more inaccessible to people in migration. With respect to the Republic of Serbia, given its geographical position, current role in directing the migration flow and aspirations to full membership, there is a clear need for even closer involvement in the debates led at the European level.
In the status quo situation of the refugee-migrant crisis, it is especially important to remain consistent in the policy of humane intervention regarding all persons who are residing in/passing through the territory of the Republic of Serbia. By all means, an even bigger challenge are the status issues and differentiation of migrants, and now, with the slowed flow in this segment, it is necessary to redefine the current practice of treatment. The starting premise that people who found themselves on the territory of the Republic of Serbia can reside either legally or illegally, and that there is no category in “limbo”, requires the establishment of a practice of treatment where all persons must have their status explicitly determined, and prescribed measures must be taken, while respecting the standards of protection.
In the context of the reform processes, although compliance with EU policies is in the forefront, it is necessary, at the same time, to harmonize action plans horizontally, coordinate different policies, and observe the phenomenon of migration, as a part of the overall response of the state to the challenges that lie ahead, respecting the specific needs of particularly vulnerable groups that can be identified among the migrant population.
When it comes to victims of human trafficking, in addition to adopting the missing strategic framework, harmonization with EU standards, it is necessary to reinforce the segment of preventive action, through the implementation of training aimed at sensitizing people who come in first contact with migrants, and by informing migrants and refugees about the risk of exploitation and the available protection mechanisms, including international protection