MONTENEGRO (Tier 2)
Montenegro is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children who are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Trafficking victims are mostly women and girls from Eastern Europe and other Balkan countries, including Serbia and Kosovo, who migrate or are smuggled through the country en route to Western Europe and subjected to sex trafficking in Montenegro. Roma children are coerced into street begging in the country; many of these children come from Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, and from within Montenegro. In prior years, there were reports that mainly foreign men and boys are subjected to forced labor in Montenegro’s growing construction industry. Montenegrin women and girls are vulnerable to sex trafficking in other Balkan countries; at least one Montenegrin girl was subjected to conditions of sex trafficking in Serbia during the reporting period. There were reports that some foreign women were forced to work in Montenegro.
The Government of Montenegro does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Montenegro increased its law enforcement efforts and charged police officers for abuse of power in connection with a human trafficking case. Victim identification, however, remained weak; the government did not identify any trafficking victims this year. The government also deported large numbers of children caught begging without fully examining whether any were victims of trafficking.
Recommendations for Montenegro: Vigorously investigate and aggressively prosecute sex trafficking and labor trafficking crimes in Montenegro, and convict and sentence trafficking offenders, including public officials complicit in trafficking; increase efforts to identify potential victims among vulnerable groups, such as women arrested for prostitution violations, undocumented migrants, refugees and displaced persons – particularly Roma – and child beggars, and refer them to the government shelter or NGO service providers; continue to ensure that the rights of trafficking victims are respected while victims are given care in shelters; improve protections for potential victim witnesses to empower more victims to testify against their traffickers; improve specific protections for child victims of trafficking, ensuring that the best interests of potential trafficking victims guide the care.
The Government of Montenegro continued to improve its law enforcement response to human trafficking in 2010, including by prosecuting three officers for complicity in human trafficking and engaging in robust trainings of officials. Montenegro prohibits sex and labor trafficking through Article 444 of its criminal code, which prescribes penalties of up to 10 years’ imprisonment, or 12 years’ imprisonment for offenses involving aggravated circumstances; these penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. During the reporting period, the government investigated and began the prosecutions of 22 trafficking suspects, an increase from 14 trafficking offenders investigated and prosecuted in 2009. In 2010, the government convicted 12 trafficking offenders, in contrast to 11 offenders convicted in 2009. These offenders were sentenced to between two and seven years in prison. Five of the offenders were convicted for sex trafficking and seven were convicted for labor trafficking. The Montenegrin authorities investigated and began the prosecutions of three police officers who served as security guards in bars that facilitated human trafficking; the officers were charged with abuse of office in relation to human trafficking and facilitation of prostitution. The government conducted a wide variety of trainings this year. In July and September, Montenegrin authorities trained 48 labor inspectors and other officials on identifying labor trafficking. The police academy incorporated anti-trafficking training as a mandatory subject for all new trainees. In September 2010, the National Trafficking Coordinator’s office held a regional training for judges and prosecutors. During the reporting period, the Montenegrin government extradited a trafficking suspect to Slovenia. The Montenegrin government collaborated with the governments of Serbia and Kosovo to investigate trafficking offenses.
The government displayed mixed protection efforts during the reporting period. The Coordinator fully funded an NGO shelter providing a range of services, including housing, medical, and psychological care to trafficking victims. The government provided $152,000 to cover the operation of the trafficking shelter, an increase from $109,200 funded in 2009. The government-funded shelter was a closed shelter; for their protection, victims may leave only if accompanied by chaperones. The government reported that one victim accepted the assistance program and stayed in the government shelter for several months. The government had continuing problems identifying victims of trafficking. The government did not proactively identify any trafficking victims this year, although an NGO identified one sex trafficking victim. Although the government conducted a large police operation aimed at suppressing child begging, in which it removed 192 children from the street, the government failed to identify any trafficking victims among them. The children collected in this operation were temporarily detained in a center for children and then deported, raising concerns about whether the potential victims were fully screened for trafficking indicators. Montenegro’s Law of Foreigners allowed victims of trafficking to receive a temporary residence permit in Montenegro between three months and one year, though no victims received such a permit during the reporting period. In practice, victims of trafficking were not offered long-term legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they may face retribution or hardship. Under the government program, Montenegro encouraged victims to participate in prosecuting human trafficking cases by providing free legal aid to victims; NGOs report that, thus far, all victims have given statements to the police.
The Government of Montenegro engaged in some prevention activities during the reporting period. The government declared October as anti-trafficking month and engaged in several awareness raising activities during that time, including sponsoring an anti-trafficking art contest for children, lectures in all primary and secondary schools in the country, and lectures and workshops on anti-trafficking at the Konik refugee camp. The government fully funded an NGO-run anti-trafficking hotline and aired an advertisement on commercial television for the hotline. In February 2011, the Montenegrin government established a working group to monitor the implementation of the national strategy to combat trafficking in persons. The government had adopted a national action plan for 2010-2011; the National Coordinator established a group to develop a strategy for 2011-2016, soliciting advice from all stakeholders, including NGOs. The National Coordinator began increased monitoring and reporting; it published anti-trafficking law enforcement statistics on its website. The government provided anti-trafficking training to all Montenegrin troops prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.