The Bill on Foreigners has been analysed in the light of harmonization with the Directive 2004/81/
EC on the residence permit issued to third-country nationals who are victims of trafficking in human
beings or who have been the subject of an action to facilitate illegal immigration, who cooperate with
the competent authorities, as well as with regard to its compliance with the current legislation of the
Republic of Serbia regulating the protection of trafficked persons.

Fotografija: Pixabay

Fotografija: Pixabay

As far as foreign nationals who are victims of human trafficking are concerned, the Law on Foreigners should regulate the issues of their residence, the reflection and recovery period, access to assistance and protection services in the course of temporary residence, and the manner and conditions of their return to the country of origin.

In the text of the Law on Foreigners which is currently in force (Official Gazette of RS, no. 97/2008), these issues are not regulated in detail. Namely, trafficked persons are explicitly mentioned only in Article 28, Paragraph 5, which states that a trafficked person shall be granted temporary residence if it is in the interest of conducting criminal proceedings for the offence of trafficking in human beings; if the trafficked person does not have sufficient means, he/she will be provided with appropriate accommodation, food and basic living conditions. The conditions and manner of granting temporary residence are specified in the Regulation for the implementation of the Law on Foreigners, within the chapter regulating the issue of humanitarian residence. These provisions have been essentially taken from two bylaws from 2004 - the Instruction on conditions for granting temporary residence to foreign nationals who are victims of trafficking in human beings, issued by the Interior Minister on July 5 2004 and the Instruction on the procedure for granting temporary residence to foreign nationals who are victims of trafficking in human beings, issued by the Deputy Head of the Border Police Directorate on September 20, 2004. In that respect, the decision to regulate by the law the issues related to temporary residence of foreign nationals who are victims of trafficking - 15 years after trafficking in human beings was criminalized in the Republic of Serbia - is certainly praiseworthy.

The existing Bill on Foreigners is to the greatest extent harmonised with the requirements of the Directive 2004/81/EC. Proposed amendments and supplements aim to increase the extent of harmonisation, without intervening in the parts where the Republic of Serbia has announced harmonisation in the later stage. They also seek to contribute to more consistent compliance of this Bill with other legislation that is in force in Serbia in the area of protection of trafficked persons and to point out to some technical inconsistencies. 

In Article 3 of the Bill on Foreigners, victims of human trafficking are listed among especially vulnerable persons. In Article 40, Paragraph 1, the status of presumed victim of human trafficking and the status of victim of human trafficking are mentioned as possible grounds for granting temporary residence to a foreign national in the Republic of Serbia for the period longer than 90 days.

The issues relating to temporary residence of trafficked persons are primarily regulated in Articles 62 - Temporary residence of a foreigner who is presumed to be victim of trafficking in human beings, 63 - Temporary residence of victims of trafficking in human beings and 64 - Termination of humanitarian residence and temporary residence of victims of trafficking in human beings.

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