The government maintained victim protection efforts. The government identified one officially recognized victim and one potential sex trafficking victim (one potential forced begging victim in 2016). The government also identified three female children forced into marriage and vulnerable to domestic servitude (two children forced into marriage in 2016). The government-funded NGO-run shelter accommodated four victims (three in 2016). OFTIP allocated €23,500 ($28,210) to the NGO-run shelter, compared to €27,000 ($32,410) in 2016. Police identified 107 child beggars (75 in 2016 and 122 in 2015) but did not identify any as trafficking victims. The government accommodated most of the child beggars at local social welfare centers until releasing them to their parents or guardians.
A multi-disciplinary national referral mechanism (NRM) provided standard operating procedures for identifying and referring victims to services. First responders carried out the preliminary identification of potential victims and then contacted police who formally recognized the individuals as potential trafficking victims. The government identified potential victims as an official trafficking victim only in cases with a final conviction or at times a formal indictment; however, the government provided the same services to potential victims and officially recognized victims. A multi-disciplinary coordination team led by the national coordinator monitored the implementation of the NRM and met twice a year and when a potential victim was identified. OFTIP provided training on victim identification to police, labor inspectors, health workers, social workers, and asylum officers; however, law enforcement still conducted the majority of proactive identification efforts. Police officers proactively screened foreign nationals and seasonal workers during the summer tourist season for indicators of trafficking. Observers reported the low number of identified victims reflected inadequate victim identification procedures. The government-funded NGO-run shelter provided specialized services for trafficking victims, including vocational training and medical, psycho-social, legal, and reintegration assistance. The shelter could accommodate adult male, adult female, and child victims in separate living quarters in the shelter. Victims could leave the shelter after assessment by police, or by the social welfare centers in the case of children. The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (MLSW) operated local and social welfare centers and two regional institutions, which provided general services for victims of abuse, including trafficking victims. Although MLSW did not provide specialized services for trafficking victims, MLSW could provide separate facilities for males and females.
The law provided witness protection, free legal aid, and a psychologist to encourage victims to participate in prosecutions; however, observers reported the government assigned lawyers with little or no experience to victims in trafficking cases. The law also allowed for the possibility for victim restitution through civil suits and entitled foreign trafficking victims to receive a temporary residence permit, lasting from three months to one year, and work authorization. No victims applied for temporary residence permits in 2015, 2016, or 2017. One child victim participated in the prosecution of her trafficker; prosecutors video recorded her testimony in the presence of a social worker. The law on compensation of victims intended to provide financial assistance to victims of violent crimes; however, this law will not go into effect until Montenegro becomes a member of the EU. No victim has ever received restitution in civil or criminal proceedings; observers reported some prosecutors did not know they could make claims during criminal proceedings. The government did not penalize trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking.