Preventing and combating forced begging, as a form of child trafficking remains an important priority for the authorities in the Western Balkans region where these children may be subject to physical and psychological abuse, cannot attend school and suffer from social injustice. This form of child exploitation appears prevalent also in North Macedonia and in Bosnia Herzegovina. To address this phenomenon, with the support of the EU and Council of Europe, a peer-to-peer regional meeting on preventing and combating forced begging, as a form of child trafficking, was organised in Sarajevo.
Fourteen participants including prosecutors, police investigators, social workers, a judge, members of civil society organisations and anti-trafficking mobile teams from North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina gathered and discussed detailed investigation procedures on cases for forced begging, taking evidence, preparing indictment, adjudicating and sanctioning perpetrators of this hideous crime. Several successfully prosecuted cases on child trafficking for begging were presented, which can serve as models for future successful proactive prosecution of child traffickers.
“The ‘Sub-group on Child Trafficking’ will tentatively analyse the outcomes of this meeting and address the problem of child trafficking for forced begging in its next Operational plan 2023-2026”, affirmed Ms. Svetlana Cvetkovska, the President of the Sub-group on Child Trafficking of the National Commission on Fight against Trafficking in Human Beings of North Macedonia.
The participants of the regional exchange in Sarajevo agreed that child trafficking for forced begging needs a multi-institutional co-operation in order to be successfully prevented and combatted. The discussions revealed that special investigative measures should be used in order to obtain evidence and avoid overreliance on child’s testimony. In addition, the participants emphasised the importance of the adequate and timely criminal-law response, which is crucial that the child victim is adequately taken care of, protected and safely accommodated.
This activity was organised in the framework of the “Strengthening anti - trafficking action in North Macedonia” part of the EU and Council of Europe joint programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye” and “Strengthening anti-trafficking action in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.