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Serbia: New report on the impact of criminalisation of sex work on the rights of sex workers and trafficked persons

ICRSE welcomes a new report exploring the impact of the laws in Serbia that criminalize sex work on the protection of the human rights of both sex workers and trafficked persons.
'Law above all and court practices: Impact of the criminalization of sex work on the human rights of sex workers and trafficked persons in Serbia'
is a result of a research carried out by JAZAS, Association Against AIDS, and ASTRA, Anti-Trafficking Action, with the support of ICRSE member, the sex workers’ rights organization Sloboda Prava (Equal Rights).
Elena Drezga, JAZAS, explains:
'The overall goal of the project “Law Above all and Court Practices” is to contribute to policies and practices which respect the human rights of both victims of human trafficking and sex workers in Serbia.

The conflation of human trafficking and sex work leads to the development and implementation of laws and policies which negatively affect sex workers. At the same time, the implementation
of anti-prostitution policies is an obstacle to successfully combating human trafficking. The criminalization and penalization of sex work provides an excellent basis for human rights abuses
of sex workers all over the world. Through the creation and implementation of restrictive laws on sex work, governments in effect create a legitimate framework to control and punish sex

In order to better understand the consequences of the existing laws relating to sex work, the project team carried out an analysis of the judicial practice in regard to the prosecution of sex
work and human trafficking under the Law on Public Peace and Order and the Criminal Code. The emphasis was put on potential failures of the system to identify and recognize victims of
trafficking, as well as on the (dis)respect for the human rights of sex workers and trafficked persons. The effects of the judicial practice are analyzed from the perspective of both trafficking
victims and sex workers.

One particular success of the project was the active participation of the sex work community in Belgrade in the research. The research also increased the level of awareness of sex workers
about the possibilities to exercise their human rights, which are guaranteed by the international conventions that Serbia ratified.’
You can download the report in English here and Serbian here.

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