FACT SHEET: Strengthening Counter-Trafficking Efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Speeches Shim

USAID is working to build capacity within the National Referral System to better identify and assist victims of human trafficking.

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is a country of origin, transit, and destination for victims of human trafficking. In most cases, the victims are identified as BiH citizens, many of them children. Individuals are trafficked from throughout the country for forced labor or sexual exploitation, and an increasing number of children are being trafficked for forced begging or child marriage. Regional monitoring teams are legally responsible for connecting victims of trafficking with critical assistance programs via BiH’s National Referral System. Yet the teams are underutilizing the system, meaning many victims are not getting the help and services available to them.     


Launched in June 2019, USAID’s Strengthening Counter-Trafficking Efforts in BiH project is designed to provide relevant institutions with the tools, training, and legislative resources they need to fight the devastating effects of trafficking in persons (TIP). The project’s two main objectives are: 1) to strenghten the ability of those who work within the existing National Referral System to implement BiH’s current legal and regulatory framework for protecting victims; and 2) to establish a case management system that proactively screens for and identifies potential victims. Another goal of this project is more vigorous prosecution of TIP perpetrators.

USAID’s implementing partner for this three-year, $550,000 project is the International Organization for Migration.



USAID supports and strengthens the institutional framework for countering TIP by helping the BiH Anti-Trafficking Coordinator's Office and other stakeholders reform the national referral mechanism. This reform is part of the new BiH Strategy for Countering Trafficking in Persons, which was developed and adopted with USAID assistance. Reforming the national referral mechanism will improve inter-institutional cooperation and, more importantly, increase the efficiency and quality of assistance provided to trafficking victims. 

To that affect, USAID has trained 600 workers from sectors that first come in contact with potential victims of trafficking—social workers, labor inspectors, police officers, prosecutors, staff of temporary reception centers, health and education professionals—to better recognize the signs of trafficking and proactively identify victims of TIP. Through intersectoral trainings for representatives of the new referral mechanism, USAID is also working to ensure more sensitized treatment of TIP victims in the various institutions that assist them.

USAID has also trained law enforcement and judiciary staff to use a more victim-sensitive approach in the investigation and prosecution of TIP cases. USAID also continues to support the National Task Force for Anti-Trafficking and Irregular Migration, by organizing meetings and trainings for a network of specialized anti-TIP prosecutors and investigators from all levels of government.


The project places special focus on the Roma communities, where both adults and children are vulnerable to trafficking, particularly for forced begging, labor, and marriage. In many instances, law enforcement and social workers continue to justify trafficking within Roma communities as 'traditional cultural practice', and in some cases they even return child victims to their perpetrator relatives without intervention. USAID directly targets this gap and helps counter forced child begging and exploitation by educating those involved in identifying and protecting TIP victims and alerting them to incidents within the Roma communities. 

Last updated: October 13, 2021

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