Categories
Response stories

The Cantonal Court of Tuzla (Bosnia and Herzegovina) responded to trafficking in children effectively

Human trafficking, as a serious violation of human rights and freedoms, is still present in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Forced child begging, is one of the most common forms of human trafficking in the country and the tendency to exploit children has not stagnated. The actual situation on the ground, when it comes to children who are victims of forced begging, is much worse than the statistics show. The most frequent locations where human trafficking exploitation takes place are the largest city centers, such as Tuzla, Sarajevo, Zenica, and Mostar.

Children at high risk of being trafficked with the aim of labor exploitation or forced begging often involving Roma children routinely go unidentified. When it comes to the investigation and prosecution of child trafficking, police inspectors and prosecutors tend to categorize cases of child trafficking as other types of a criminal offences. The biggest criticism is directed at the criminal justice system. Especially in the context of the small number of indictments and verdicts for these crimes, light sentences, and weak protection of victims of human trafficking.

However, a positive example is Tuzla Canton, which leads the way in identifying and processing such cases. The Tuzla Canton has a Protocol for dealing with cases of begging, labor exploitation, and other forms of child abuse, which was defined and signed by government institutions and non-governmental organizations.

The Cantonal Court of Tuzla responded to trafficking in children effectively and passed a first-instance verdict of conviction for six defendants for organized human trafficking related to the exploitation of children for the purpose of forced begging and sentenced them to prison terms for a total of 74 years. 

The indictment stated that in the period from 2017 to February 2021, members of the organized crime group forced several children between the ages of 4 and 14 to into begging, using theirth mental deficiency, helplessness and inability to resist. The children would be woken up in the early morning, regardless of the weather, transported to various locations in over 25 places in Tuzla Canton or other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, supervising them during the begging, and children had to hand over amounts of money to members or group organizers ranging from 40 BAM (some €20) to 150 BAM (some €70) daily. In doing so, the children were exposed to all weather conditions, inadequately dressed and clothed, hungry and constantly under the threat of the use of physical force, or they were beaten and insulted.

There is progress in processing human trafficking cases, but not enough. This is facilitated by a poor identification system, as well as insufficiently developed awareness of this problem. Although human trafficking in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been an ongoing issue, the current efforts will hopefully ensure a reduction in victims going forward.

The case was found in the media at the following links:

https://www.fokus.ba/vijesti/bih/vodja-bio-saban-salcinovic-osudjeni-74-godine-robije-zbog- navodjenja-djece-na-prosjacenje/2445785/ 

https://www.072info.com/kako-zaustaviti-prisilno-prosjacenje-djece/


Also read:

Spread of panic and false information about the increase in the number of people infected with HIV in Zaječar

The first judgment for discrimination based on sexual orientation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Categories
Response stories

The first judgment for discrimination based on sexual orientation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Despite that Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the leading countries of the South Eastern Europe, hate speech, intolerance towards LGBTI persons, as well as harassment or violence remain very common and still is an issue of concern. However, a significant step toward not only increasing the LGBTI community’s trust in government institutions but also strengthening standards and legal understanding of discrimination was made this year in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The first judgment establishing discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics in Bosnia and Herzegovina was passed on April 4, 2022. According to a lawsuit filed and conducted by the Sarajevo Open Centre* as one of its strategic one, the trial lasted a total of two years and six months and is significant, because now there is a judgement protecting LGBTI rights in BiH for the first time in 13 years since the Anti-Discrimination Law was passed. This judgment is also crucial because the defendant, acted in a discriminatory manner as a public figure or cantonal representative in the Sarajevo Canton Assembly.

The defendant violated the right to equal treatment in relation to members of the LGBTI community whose rights the SOC protects as a plaintiff, by making a statement on the social network Facebook reading: “…Fifteen of them are sufficient to launch an initiative and organise so-called pride marches aimed at destroying the state and its people. Everyone has the right to live their lives as they like, but we also have the right to choose who we want to live with. I want people like these to be isolated and put away from our children and society. Let them go somewhere else and make a city, a state, and a law for themselves, and their own rights that no one will dispute. But NOT here!”.

The judge found that the defendant committed the following forms of discrimination: inciting and issuing an order for segregation, harassment with the intent of violating a person’s dignity and creating intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive content based on sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics. The judge emphasized that the text of the statement is extremely discriminatory and degrading, based on extreme negative stereotypes, and that it should be distinguished from statements and posts made by unknown and politically uninvolved individuals because the defendant, as a public official, should protect the freedom and dignity of every individual in a realistic and authentic manner, refraining from expressing views such as “I want people like these to be isolated and put away from our children and society” because it represents a lack of respect for others, and the statement itself is hate speech and direct incitement to hatred, which is altogether discrimination. The defendant’s statement harmed the dignity of LGBTI people, i.e., the plaintiff, and created a hostile, degrading and insulting environment, which violates the ADL, the ECtHR and European case law that is binding in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

It should be emphasized that this is a first-instance judgement, not a final one. However, this precedent is a significant step toward not only increasing the LGBTI community’s trust in institutions but also strengthening standards and legal understanding of discrimination.

* – NGO Sarajevo Open Centre works to advance human rights, especially the position and human rights of LGBTI people and women in Bosnia and Herzegovina, through representation of their realities and advocacy for legal, policy, economic, social and cultural changes in all areas of life.


Also read:

Insults and humiliation due to sexual orientation

Nothing Personal, Just Prejudice: Complaint to Director of Clinic in North Macedonia