The Serbian government does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so, says the U.S. Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons Report, presented by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in Washington on July 1.
The 2020 report, conveyed by Voice of America (VoA), states that the government increased its efforts relative to the previous year, bearing in mind the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its capacity to combat trafficking, which is why it remains on tier two, out of a total of three.
Serbia's efforts included handing down more sentences to traffickers and the identification of a larger number of victims. The government also invested more resources in the Center for Protection of Trafficking Victims (CPTV), while judges granted more victims the status of particularly sensitive witnesses, the State Department says.
The report, however, notes that the minimum standards were not met in several key areas. It highlights a lack of government effort regarding victim identification, a shortage of funds and staff in CPTV for adequate assistance to the victims, and the closing of the Urgent Reception Center due to problems related to the pandemic and the Center's inability to get a permit.
The State Department recommends that Serbia, among other things, decisively investigate, prosecute and convict traffickers, including complicit officials, and hand down adequate sentences.