The government maintained victim protection efforts. The government identified 17 trafficking victims (26 in 2019). Of these, seven were exploited in sex trafficking and 10 in forced labor (20 were exploited in sex trafficking, three in forced labor, two in “slavery and servitude,” and one in domestic servitude through forced marriage in 2019). Fifteen of the victims were children (the same number as in 2019); there were seven female and 10 male victims (23 females and three males in 2019); all victims were from Kosovo (21 were from Kosovo, two from Serbia, two from Montenegro, and one from Albania in 2019). 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 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 coordinate victim care and placement; the NRM also required a social worker for child victims to participate in the assessment. 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). ISF temporarily accommodated victims assessed as high-risk, such as victims with their trafficker still at large, victims testifying in court proceedings, or victims awaiting repatriation. Authorities required victims to have a police escort outside of the ISF while court proceedings were ongoing and required an approval from a prosecutor and the KP for high-risk victims to permanently leave the ISF. The facility had the capacity to shelter 40 individuals with separate rooms for females, males, and families, and victims stayed for an average of 90 days before transferring to an NGO-run shelter. In 2020, ISF accommodated nine victims (27 victims in 2019). The three shelters provided legal assistance, medical and psychological services, counseling, education, recreational services, and rehabilitative support. During the pandemic, the shelters also administered COVID-19 tests to victims immediately after arrival, to ensure COVID-positive victims received medical attention and safety precautions. The Center for Social Welfare (CSW) also provided services to child victims but, due to the pandemic, CSW reduced work hours and the number of working social workers resulting in fewer referred cases and challenges in offering 24-hour guardianship. 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 €205,000 ($251,530) for victim protection, an increase from €172,960 ($212,220) in 2019. This included an increase in funds for NGO-run shelters after years of inadequate funding and bureaucratic delays; NGO-run shelters received €105,000 ($128,830), compared with €67,000 ($82,210) in 2019 and €70,680 ($86,720) in 2018. ISF received €100,000 ($122,700), compared with €80,000 ($98,160) in 2019 and 2018. The Pristina municipal government also provided €13,000 ($15,950) to one of the NGO-run shelters, compared with €7,100 ($8,710) in 2019. NGO-run shelters reported government funding in 2020 was satisfactory. There were no reports the government penalized victims for crimes their traffickers compelled them to commit; however, due to a lack of consistent identification procedures for forced begging, some children may have remained unidentified within the law enforcement system. The law entitled foreign victims to a 90-day reflection period in which victims can recover before deciding whether to cooperate with law enforcement. Authorities afforded foreign victims the same rights and services as domestic victims, and the law entitled foreign victims to a temporary residence permit for at least six months; no foreign victims requested a permit in 2020 (same as in 2019). The government assisted in repatriating three victims (two in 2019). All 17 victims participated in investigations by providing statements to THBD, prosecutors, and pre-trial judges (26 in 2019). 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 victim received €3,000 ($3,680) for mental health damages from the compensation fund (one child victim received €2,000 ($2,450) in 2019).