FACT SHEET: Victim-Centered Approach to Preventing Trafficking in Persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Speeches Shim

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is a country of origin, transit, and destination for victims of trafficking in persons (TIP).  In most cases, the victims are identified as BiH citizens, many of them children. Individuals are trafficked from throughout the country for forced labor and sexual exploitation, and an increasing number of children are being trafficked for forced begging or child marriage.  In the U.S. State Department’s 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report, BiH was listed as a Tier 2 ‘Watch List’ country, meaning significant efforts to improve the country’s response to TIP are critical to bringing BiH into compliance with the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA).  (Countries that drop to Tier 3 status may be subject to certain restrictions on assistance, whereby the President may determine not to provide U.S. government foreign assistance.) 


Through this project, the Victim-Centered Approach to Prevention of Trafficking in BiH, USAID works to improve the quality and efficiency of several key components in the fight against TIP: the identification of both current and potential victims; the medical, social/emotional and legal response for victims; and prevention of revictimization.  

The project focuses on increasing the capacities of first responders to adequately identify and assist TIP victims. In so doing, we equip them to identify not only victims of TIP, but also potential victims at risk of being trafficked. Although the project focuses on protection efforts, these efforts contribute greatly to prevention of TIP too. For example, social service professionals performing their regular family assessmentswill – by using indicators learned during USAID training – be equipped to identify at-risk children and prevent these children from being trafficked. 

USAID’s implementing partner in this two-year, $200,000 project, launched in June 2019, is the International Forum of Solidarity-Emmaus.


This project helps BiH develop systems that align with international standards for assisting victims of TIP. The project works to increase the capacity of the institutions and actors within BiH’s existing National Referral System to better identify, treat, and protect victims of TIP.  It also works to strengthen cooperation and networking among these institutions as an important tool for providing efficient and effective assistance and protection. 

The project's activities are focused on three target groups:  first responders; civil society organizations; and the legal and judicial sectors.  


Critical first responders in the fight against TIP include law enforcement personnel, social workers, doctors, nurses, and court/child psychologists. USAID will provide first reponders with training that stresses the importance of their role and strengthens their capacity for identifying and assisting victims, particularly children, Roma, and unaccompanied minors. They will learn how to best accommodate the special needs of the most vulnerable victims and at-risk individuals to minimize trauma, establish individual support systems to include guardians and counselors, and protect against revictimization.  


Civil society organizations (CSOs) play a specific role in monitoring the treatment of TIP victims within existing systems and the implemenation of relevant legistlation. USAID will train CSOs on the various facets of BiH's National Referral System to assess whether the legal obligations of the law are being met. CSOs will learn strategies for advocating for the adoption of specific anti-trafficking legislation, internally prioritizing TIP projects, building alliances and networks with relevant actors, and developing policies for fighting TIP.  CSOs will learn methods for better monitoring and assessing how victims are treated by shelter employees, medical professionals, the court system, and social services.   


To be effective, legal advocacy and court processes must be tailored to the unique aspects of TIP cases. USAID is strengthening the TIP victim's postion in court proceedings by creating a pool of qualified lawyers and legal advocates who are educated in TIP-specific laws and regulations to provide free assistance to victims. Participants also learn how to work with and manage the unique needs of these particularly vulnerable persons. The project will also work to build the capacities of judges, prosecutors, court security personnel, and court-appointed advocates within the system to better handle TIP cases.  



Last updated: December 01, 2020

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