The government increased victim protection efforts. The government identified 26 trafficking victims (15 in 2018). Of these, 19 were subjected to sex trafficking, two to forced labor, two to “slavery and servitude,” one to forced begging, one to domestic servitude through forced marriage, and one to “selling of the child” (in 2018, 11 were subjected to sex trafficking, two to forced labor, one to “slavery and servitude,” and one to domestic servitude through forced marriage). Of these same 26 trafficking victims, 15 were children (12 in 2018); 23 were female and three were male (14 females and one male in 2018); and 21 were from Kosovo, two from Serbia, two from Montenegro, and one from Albania. First responders used standard indicators to screen vulnerable populations; however, observers reported a lack of guidance and proactive identification efforts for victims of forced begging, especially children. A multi-disciplinary national referral mechanism (NRM) provided standard operating procedures (SOPs) for identifying and referring victims to services. The NRM required an investigator from the THBD and a victim’s advocate from the Victim’s Assistance and Advocacy Office to convene and assess the victim as low-, medium-, or high-risk of danger and to coordinate victim care and placement. SOPs required a social worker to attend for child victims. NGOs continued to report the NRM functioned well and highlighted good cooperation among actors.
The government licensed and partially funded two NGO-run shelters to provide services to victims, along with the state-run Interim Security Facility (ISF). These shelters provided legal assistance, medical and psychological services, counseling, education, recreational services, and other rehabilitative support. Authorities afforded foreign victims the same rights and services as domestic victims. Victims also had access to nine Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (MLSW) support facilities, but the government did not have a care facility in the country’s four northern municipalities. ISF temporarily accommodated victims assessed as high-risk. Authorities required victims to have a police escort outside of the ISF while court proceedings were ongoing and required approval from a prosecutor and the KP for victims to permanently leave the ISF while assessed as high-risk. The facility had the capacity to shelter 40 individuals with separate rooms for females, males, and families. Victims stayed at the ISF for an average of 90 days before transferring to an NGO-run shelter. ISF accommodated 27 victims (17 victims in 2018). The two NGO-run shelters provided support services to victims assessed as low- to medium-risk; one of these NGO-run shelters was solely for children. Civil society reported good quality of care for victims, but reintegration programs had limited success due to a lack of resources and high overall unemployment.
The government allocated €172,960 ($194,340) for victim protection, compared to €150,680 ($169,300) in 2018. However, the government continued to progressively decrease funds for NGO-run shelters, which received €67,000 ($75,280), compared to €70,680 ($79,420) in 2018, €72,870 ($81,880) in 2017, €91,010 ($102,260) in 2016, and €101,930 ($114,530) in 2015. ISF received €80,000 ($89,890) in 2019, 2018, and 2017. Additionally, the government allocated €5,160 ($5,800) for health services and municipal governments provided €7,100 ($7,980) to an NGO-run shelter. Government funding was inadequate for NGO-run shelters, and operations could not continue without foreign donors. In addition, there were bureaucratic delays and confusion over responsibilities, resulting in funding delays in previous years. In 2019, MLSW allowed NGOs to apply for one-year funding, an increase over the eight-month duration in the previous year. However, due to a month-long bureaucratic delay, NGOs received only 11 months of funding. The law entitled foreign victims to a 90-day reflection period, in which victims can recover before deciding whether to cooperate with law enforcement. The law entitled foreign victims to a temporary residence permit for at least six months; no foreign victims requested a permit (none in 2018). The government repatriated two victims (three in 2018). All 26 victims participated in investigations and court proceedings (15 in 2018). The government reported suspected traffickers were not present when victims provided statements, and foreign victims could return to their countries of origin after testifying, without waiting for the conclusion of the trial. The law allowed compensation from the state if victims could not get restitution from their traffickers. One child victim of sexual abuse was compensated with €2,000 ($2,250), while no victims received compensation in 2018.