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Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025       

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)

The interethnic warfare in Bosnia and Herzegovina caused production to plummet by 80% from 1992 to 1995 and unemployment to soar. With an uneasy peace in place, output recovered in 1996-99 at high percentage rates from a low base; but output growth slowed in 2000-02. Part of the lag in output was made up in 2003-08 when GDP growth exceeded 5% per year.

A sizeable current account deficit and high unemployment rate remain the two most serious macroeconomic problems.

Key exporters in the metal, automobile and wood processing industries have reported a worsening performance and have announced layoffs and output reductions.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: Bosnia-Herzegovinia

Bosnia and Herzegovina is primarily a source for women and girls trafficked within the country for commercial sexual exploitation, though it is also a destination and transit country for women and girls trafficked to Western Europe for the same purpose. Some victims from Serbia, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Iraq, and Russia are trafficked into Bosnia and Herzegovina via Serbia or Montenegro for commercial sexual exploitation. Internal trafficking continued to increase in 2008, as the majority of identified victims were Bosnian, and more than half of them were children. There were reports that some girls, particularly Roma, were trafficked for the purpose of forced marriage. Reports of Roma children trafficked for forced labor continued.   - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here or a full TIP Report here



CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to verify their authenticity or to validate their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include possible precursors of trafficking such as poverty. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims


Crime Catchers Hotline
Country Code: 387-



Trafficking of Women and Girls to Bosnia and Herzegovina for Forced Prostitution

A Submission for the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child from the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division, 2002

[accessed 23 January 2011]

[accessed 28 May 2017]

SALE OF WOMEN AND GIRLS - After the women and girls arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina, most of the purchasers were local Bosnians, but in some cases, women and girls were purchased by members of the international community. One Moldovan woman, sold for the first time in Belgrade, and for the last time to an American citizen working in Tuzla, told IPTF investigators:

I was sold in Bosnia. The owner told me that he paid 2000 KM [convertible marks-€1,025/U.S.$925] for each of seven girls. My movement was restricted completely. I could not go anywhere. In Dubrave village, Tuzla municipality, at the Harl[e]y Davidson nightclub, one [local policeman] was very often in the club. I recognized him in the photo showed to me by the local police for Crime Department Tuzla. I was beaten very often if I refused "to work." Very often we were hungry. Every time we were threatened to be sold to Serbia.... Kevin [an American] paid 3,000 Deutschmarks [€1,538/U.S.$1,388] for me.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Bosmoa-Herzegovina

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 13 May 2021]


The prosecution of 13 BiH nationals for collusion in forced labor involving 672 victims of forced labor in Azerbaijan in 2015 continued in BiH courts. The government failed to prosecute organized crime syndicates that forced Romani children to beg on the streets, alleging that it was Romani custom to beg. There were reports that individuals and organized crime syndicates trafficked men, women, and children for begging and forced labor (see section 7.c.).


During the year the government did not receive reports of child labor at places of employment. Neither entity had inspectors dedicated to child labor inspections; authorities investigated violations of child labor laws as part of a general labor inspection. The labor inspectorates of both entities reported that they found no violations of child labor laws, although they did not conduct reviews of children working on family farms. The government did not collect data on child labor because there were no reported cases. The general perception among officials and civil society was that the exploitation of child labor was rare.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


Legal protections against exploitative working conditions are poorly enforced, and workers in some industries face hazardous conditions. Patronage and clientelism continue to adversely affect hiring practices and contribute to de facto restrictions on economic opportunity.

According to the US State Department’s 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report, both Bosnian and foreign adults and children are subject to trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor in BiH, with Romany children particularly vulnerable to forced begging and forced marriages that amount to domestic servitude. The report found that the government was making efforts toward prosecuting perpetrators, protecting victims, and preventing trafficking, though its efforts in the second area decreased somewhat during the coverage period.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 15 April 2019]

[accessed 23 April 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 182]

Children from the largest minority group in BiH, the Roma, remain vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor. (3; 5; 6; 1; 2; 11; 12; 21; 14) The Roma custom of paid and arranged marriages between families has resulted in the exploitation of some Roma girls as domestic workers. (2; 11; 22; 14; 23) Birth registration is required to attend school in BiH and some Roma children lack identity documents, which may affect their access to education. (1; 20; 24; 25; 26; 27; 22) Children out of school are vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor. Sources also indicate that some Roma children face discrimination by some teachers and peers, travel long distances to schools, and are unable to afford school supplies, as well as clothing and food. (16; 21; 28; 29; 10) In addition, research found that discrimination against some Roma children by school administrators has led to disproportionately high enrollment rates of Roma children in schools for children with intellectual disabilities. (30).

Wartime Sexual Violence in Bosnia: The Human Trafficking Connection

Ivana Radovic, Belgrade, Balkan Investigative Reporting Network BIRN, 31 December 2020

[accessed 31 December 2020]

The indictment said that three women, two of whom were 13 and 15 years old, were also kept effectively enslaved by the paramilitaries; forced to cook, clean houses, wash soldiers’ uniforms and do whatever they were told under the threat of murder. At the same time, they were severely beaten, raped and sexually humiliated. Three other girls who had been captured earlier in the war were kept under similar conditions. Three of the six victims married their captors.

Elements of sexual slavery were included in the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s judgments convicting Croatian Defence Council member Josip Tolic of the inhumane treatment and murders of Serb civilians in detention facilities in Odzaci and Bosanski Brod in northern Bosnia.

Police arrest 15 in Bosnia-France human trafficking ring

Agence France-Presse AFP, Sarajevo, 23 June 2015

[accessed 23 June 2015]

Bosnian and French police arrested Tuesday 15 members of a human trafficking ring that forced women and children to beg and steal in cities across France, Bosnian authorities said.   Seven suspects were arrested in Bosnia and eight in France, the police said.

The women and children involved were subject to blackmail, threats and physical and psychological abuse, police said in a statement.   "Once there, they were forced to steal in the street and give up the money. In some cases, children were also victims," police said.   Investigators estimate that the traffickers made more than two million euros on the operation ($2.2 million), and laundered the proceeds through property and luxury car purchases in Bosnia.

Survivor Testimonies

Jeff Edwards, "The Sex Factory", The Mirror ,19 May 2002

[accessed 23 January 2011]

TESTIMONY OF ELENI - Eleni, 25, didn't know the friend who wrote inviting her to work as a waitress was now a prostitute. Once at the Bosnian restaurant her new owner told her she had been bought for 900 DEM and had to repay him by having sex with his customers. When she refused she was beaten until she couldn't walk for days but was still forced to have sex.

She said: "My owner told me 'You are lying down anyway so you can still work for me.'" After two months she was sold on to a man who held a pistol to her head when she threatened to go to police. Eleni was moved to a remote house after corrupt police tipped off her owner that Interpol was looking for her. He raped her several times then passed her to a third owner as she had become "too dangerous." She said: "I was a slave. I was no more than a piece of meat."


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

Violence against women - In June the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women expressed concern that BiH remained a country of origin, transit and destination in the trafficking in women, and that victims of sexual violence during the 1992-1995 war suffered additional disadvantages as both female heads of households and IDPs.

NGOs Work To Eradicate Human Trafficking, Help Victims

U.S. Department of State, Washington DC, June 12, 2007

[accessed 31 August 2014]

U.S.-funded nongovernmental organizations around the world are working to prevent human trafficking, provide resources to victims and arrest and prosecute child-sex offenders. From Africa to Europe to Asia, initiatives are raising worldwide awareness of the illegal practice of human trafficking.

PROVIDING RESOURCES FOR VICTIMS - In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the NGO Vasa Prava provides free legal assistance to victims of human trafficking.  Founded in 1996, the organization runs 16 permanent offices and 50 mobile units, staffed by 80 employees.  It has assisted more than 400,000 Bosnians.  Attorneys from Vasa Prava are available to domestic victims from the time they arrive at a shelter, and they arrange residency permits and asylum applications for foreign victims.  Victims assisted by Vasa Prava are more likely to testify against their traffickers in criminal proceedings, and their testimony has led to the conviction of several notorious traffickers and organized crime rings.

71 victims of human trafficking reported in Bosnia and Herzegovina for 2006

[Last access date unavailable]

For 2006 71 victims of human trafficking were registered in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 31 of whom were locals, 22 from Serbia and Montenegro, six from Moldova, four from Ukraine, three from Croatia, two from Bulgaria and one from each of Switzerland, Russia and Romania, Radio-Television of the Republika Srpska (RTRS) reported.

Increasing Number Of Bosnian Women Fall Victim To Trafficking

Hina News Line, 19 March 2007

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 4 September 2011]

The number of victims of human trafficking on territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina has been falling over recent years, but the share of female citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina falling victim to this crime is on the rise, Bosnian state co-ordinator of efforts aimed at countering human trafficking said earlier this week.

Sentences for those found guilty of human trafficking in Bosnia vary in length from prison terms of one year to 15 years.  According to Radovanovic, judges more frequently resort to milder sentences. So far only once the sentence of 14 years has been delivered for this crime.

Balkans Urged To Curb Trafficking

Imogen Foulkes, BBC News, Geneva, 31 March, 2005

[accessed 23 January 2011]

Countries in South-East Europe are failing to take effective measures against people trafficking, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) says.  A UNICEF report says that while countries in the region have strict anti-trafficking laws they do not tackle the root causes of the problem.

Child Sex Trafficking Study By CU-Boulder Sociologist Reveals Misperceptions

University of Colorado, Feb. 28, 2005 – Complete Report:

[accessed 28 August 2012]

[accessed 21 January 2018]

Unprecedented research into child sex trafficking in the post-war nation of Bosnia-Herzegovina suggests that public perceptions of the problem and some kinds of intervention efforts around the globe may be misguided, according to a University of Colorado at Boulder sociologist.

"People often think that all child sex traffickers kidnap their victims, but in many cases the children end up funneled into the system by their own families because of extreme poverty," according to assistant Professor AnnJanette Rosga. "Sometimes the children leave home voluntarily because of abuse or other harmful conditions." - htsccp

Sex slavery is a worldwide disgrace

Katie Kelberlau, Arizona State University ASU Web Devil, June 22, 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 4 September 2011]

Victoria realized something was amiss when she noticed they were headed west, to Serbia. At the border, her "friend" handed her to a group of Serb men who raped her and sent her to Bosnia, where she was bought and sold 10 times over a two-year period by various brothel owners who forced her into a life of prostitution.

Trafficking in Human Beings in Transition and Post-Conflict Countries [PDF]

Alja Klopcic, Human Security Perspectives, Volume 1 (2004) Issue 1

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 4 September 2011]

A. PUSH FACTORS - As demonstrated above, the majority of women and children are very of-ten helped to cross the borders by people whom they trust and are subsequently traded to traffickers. As the female trafficking agents are easily trusted, the potential victims should be warned about the trap they can fall into, especially if they live with potential traffickers in the same local communities.

Amnesty International Report 2004 - Bosnia and Herzegovina

Amnesty International, 26 May 2004

Click [here] to access the article.  Its URL is not displayed because of its length

[accessed 31 August 2014]

TRAFFICKING IN WOMEN AND GIRLS - Some positive developments were noted in the prosecution of those responsible for serious human rights abuses against women and girls in the context of trafficking and forced prostitution. In March the owner of a local nightclub was found guilty of enslavement and sentenced. The case marked the first conviction in the Federation for enslavement; those tried in trafficking cases had previously always been charged with the lesser offence of procurement. In May, five Bosnian Serb men were handed over to the custody of the State Court, which started an investigation into their alleged involvement in the trafficking of women and girls who had been forced to engage in prostitution in a chain of nightclubs in Prijedor.

Bosnia and Herzegovina : Traffickers Walk Free

Human Rights Watch, November 25, 2002

[accessed 23 January 2011]

According to Human Rights Watch, traffickers who have forced thousands of women and girls into prostitution in Bosnia and Herzegovina are not being apprehended for their crimes. Local corruption and the complicity of international officials in Bosnia have allowed a trafficking network to flourish, in which women are tricked, threatened, physically assaulted and sold as property.

Hopes Betrayed: Trafficking of Women and Girls to Post-Conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina for Forced Prostitution

Human Rights Watch Reports, Volume 14 No. 9 (D), November 2002

[accessed 23 January 2011]

[accessed 23 January 2011]

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY - According to experts of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH), trafficking first began to appear in 1995. As of October 2002, UNMIBH suspected 227 of the nightclubs and bars that dot Bosnian cities and towns of involvement in trafficking in human beings. Experts from the U.N. mission's Special Trafficking Operations Program (STOP) stated in a 2001 press conference that approximately 25 percent of the women and girls working in nightclubs and bars were trafficked.2 NGO experts working to stop trafficking in Bosnia and Herzegovina, cautioning that the statistics remain woefully unreliable, estimated that as many as 2,000 women and girls from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe have found themselves trapped in Bosnian brothels.

Trafficking in Women and Girls in Bosnia and Herzegovina - Additional Documents

Human Rights Watch, June 14, 2004

[accessed 23 January 2011]

[accessed 28 May 2017]

Human Rights Watch submitted a number of requests to the U.S. government for documents relating to trafficking in persons in Bosnia pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. Two years after our initial request, we obtained a limited number of documents. A selection of documents, some redacted in part by the U.S. government, is available through the links below. These documents corroborate Human Rights Watch’s findings in its November 2002 report, “Hopes Betrayed: Trafficking of Women and Girls to Bosnia and Herzegovina for Forced Prostitution.”

Bosnia: The United Nations, human trafficking and prostitution

Tony Robson, World Socialist Web Site, 21 August 2002

[accessed 23 January 2011]

There is mounting evidence that the United Nations has carried out a cover-up of the role played by its personnel in human trafficking and prostitution in Bosnia—a trade that has grown astronomically since the establishment of the Western protectorate seven years ago.

Teenagers 'used for sex by UN in Bosnia'

Stewart Payne, Telegraph, 25/04/2002

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 4 September 2011]

A human rights investigator who claims she was sacked for exposing the sexual abuse of Bosnian women by her United Nations colleagues, told a tribunal yesterday that girls as young as 15 were offered for sex.  Kathryn Bolkovac, 41, said women were forced to dance naked in Bosnian bars frequented by UN police officers.

Bosnia: Landmark Verdicts for Rape, Torture, and Sexual Enslavement

Human Rights Watch, Feb 22, 2001

[accessed 23 January 2011]

These cases marked the first time in history that an international tribunal brought charges solely for crimes of sexual violence against women. The decision also marked the first time that the ICTY found rape and enslavement as crimes against humanity. The eight-month long trial included testimony of sixty-three witnesses, including sixteen victims of rape held for months in sexual slavery and subjected to multiple gang rapes by the defendants and others. The Tribunal found that the defendants had enslaved six of the women. Most importantly, although two of the women were sold as chattel by Radomir Kovac for 500 Deutsch Marks each, the Tribunal found that enslavement of the women did not necessarily require the buying or selling of a human being.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: 33 victims of human trafficking aided by UN mission

BRAMA, November 16, 2000

[accessed 23 January 2011]

According to the Mission, the UN International Police Task Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina monitored a raid on three nightclubs conducted by the Prijedor police on 13 November. A preliminary investigation found that 33 women and girls from Romania, The Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Russia -- some as young as 14 years old -- had been trafficked for the purpose of prostitution.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, BiH

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 3 June 2005

[accessed 23 January 2011]

[69] While the Committee welcomes some positive developments in the prosecution of those responsible for serious crimes against women and girls in the context of trafficking and forced prostitution, as well as the adoption by the Council of Ministers of a National Plan of Action to combat trafficking in 2001, it is concerned that a growing number of children under 18, especially adolescents girls, are still being trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. The Committee is further concerned that the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography has not been adequately addressed within the criminal justice systems.

The Protection Project – Bosnia and Herzegovina [PDF]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 24 February 2016]

A Human Rights Report on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children

Human Rights Overview

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 23 January 2011]


2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 20 April 2018

[accessed 17 March 2019]

[accessed 24 June 2019]


Adequate legislation exists at the state level and in the RS and the Brcko District for forced or compulsory labor. Federation laws, however, do not criminalize all forced labor activities. The government did not enforce these laws effectively, but there was little verified evidence that forced labor occurred in the country. Penalties for violations range from three to 10 years in prison and were generally sufficient to deter violations, but resources, inspections, and remediation were inadequate.

The prosecution of 13 BiH nationals for collusion in forced labor involving 672 victims of forced labor in Azerbaijan in 2015 continued in BiH court. There were reports that individuals and organized crime syndicates trafficked men, women, and children for begging and forced labor


Boys and girls were subjected to forced begging and involuntary domestic servitude in forced marriages. Sometimes forced begging was linked to other forms of human trafficking. In the case of Romani children, family members or organized criminal groups were responsible for both subjecting girls and boys to forced begging and domestic servitude in forced marriages. Several of the worst forms of child labor occurring in the country included the use of children for illicit activities, commercial sexual exploitation of children, and the use of children for the production of pornography.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006


[accessed 7 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – The country was a destination, transit point, and, to a lesser extent, country of origin for women, girls, and, in a few cases, teenage boys trafficked for sexual exploitation. During the year, Romani children were trafficked into and within the country for forced labor. The country was also a transit point for Chinese nationals being trafficked for forced labor; illegal Chinese immigrants generally remained in the country for short periods before continuing to destinations in Western Europe.

Over 90 percent of trafficked women in the country came from Moldova, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, and Ukraine. While no reliable estimates are available, a significant number may have been trafficked on to Western Europe. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), most victims were lured by false job offers, such as advertisements offering work in Italy or Germany as dancers, waitresses, and domestic servants. Some NGOs reported that trafficking victims were increasingly lured into the country by promises of marriage to traffickers or their associates, while others knowingly entered into false marriages to obtain work and residence permits. Most trafficked women entered the country through Serbia and Montenegro. Those who transited the country generally continued on via Croatia. The IOM reported Bosnian victims in other parts of Europe and local NGOs observed some Bosnian victims within the country

Victims reported working in conditions akin to slavery, with little or no financial support. In some cases, traffickers paid victims some wages so that they could send money home to their families. Traffickers coerced victims to remain in these situations through intimidation, verbal threats, seizure of passports, withholding of food and medical care, and physical and sexual assault. To keep victims in the country legally, traffickers also made victims apply for asylum since, as asylum seekers, they were entitled to remain in the country until their claims could be adjudicated.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 23 January 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - The prostitution and trafficking of girls to, from, and within the country continues to be a problem.  Reports indicate that there are growing numbers of minors, primarily girls ages 14 to 18 years, who are trafficked from less economically developed Eastern Bosnia to more economically developed Western Bosnia and externally to Eastern and Western Europe for commercial sexual exploitation.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery – Bosnia-Herzegovina", Bosnia-Herzegovina.htm, [accessed <date>]