The latest ECPAT report highlights alarmingly increasing rates of child trafficking within Bosnia and Herzegovina and that a lack of adequate legal frameworks is leaving children without protection and giving traffickers and travelling child sex offenders opportunities to offend, as well as a feeling of anonymity and impunity.
In 2017 Bosnia and Herzegovina recorded a 7.2% increase in tourist arrivals compared to 2016 according to government statistics, consistent with a 7% increase of global tourist arrivals for the same period. 25.5% of tourists come from Croatia, 21.2% from Serbia 7.7% from Slovenia, 4.7% from Turkey, 3.2% from Germany and 37.7% from other countries.
The report highlights an increasing risk within the popular tourist town of Mostar where child trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation in the city often goes undetected by law enforcement allowing it to become a hub for the collection particularly of Roma children domestically as well as from Kosovo and Serbia. Offenders clearly target and exploit vulnerable families because of their low socio-economic status, they groom children to exploit them in sexual services and later sell them into larger entertainment and tourism markets globally.
“The 2016 Global Study on the Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism suggested that low-cost airlines, more travel for business and labour, cheaper forms of tourism and rapid tourism development often expose children to greater risks. With Bosnia and Herzegovina’s tourism industry steadily growing, the risk of sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism is also growing.”
The report emphasizes the need for legal framework improvements to prevent and respond to the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism as there is no single legislation or provision that is designed to specifically address this crime nor has the issue been raised in relevant national action plans.
However, the private sector and tourism industry has taken initiative in Bosnia and Herzegovina to end sexual exploitation of children through a commitment to The Code. Three tourism companies with operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Adventure Travel and Trade Association, Altruvistas and ANWB Reizen Beheer BV have become top members and are now annually reporting against the six criteria of The Code.
Read the full report here.