Smuggling and Trafficking of Human Beings in the Balkan Area

author: Vesna Nikolić-Ristanović, University of Belgrade
published: Oct. 30, 2009,   recorded: September 2009,   views: 4182

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The paper intends to give and overview and critical analyses of causes and recent trends in smuggling and trafficking of human beings in the Balkan area, as well as of criminal policies and mechanisms for protection of victims. First, the problems related to definitions and distinction between smuggling and trafficking will be analysed in relation to geographical position of Balkan, and attention will be drown to the scarce serious academic research in this field, as well as to overall low quality of data about victims, perpetrators and policies. Then, main contributing factors and recent trends will be explored, suggesting large parts of population being involved in smuggling and trafficking “business”, while large portions of victims are invisible and stay out of any support system. Particular attention will be paid to both victims and perpetrators coming from marginalised groups, as well as to victims who are invisible because they do not fit widespread stereotypes about victims (illegal migrants, men, sexual workers, street children, children used by organised crime for guiding victims etc.). Criminal policies and mechanisms for protection of victims will then be analysed in relation to the role and social position of perpetrators, and socio-economic status, social visibility and stereotypes related to both victims and perpetrators. I will argue that, in spite of obvious positive developments recent years, comprehensive and holistic approach to smuggling and trafficking in human beings, which goes beyond stigmatization, “otherness” and social exclusion, is not established neither in Balkan, nor in Western countries. In the concluding part, the paper will suggest possible directions toward policy which would be oriented toward prevention and social inclusion of both victims and perpetrators, with more victims assisted and human rights of both protected.

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