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The joint study by ECPAT International and local ECPAT member IFS-EMMAUS says that destitution, discrimination against ethnic minorities and social exclusion are fueling this crime, and that while arrests represent just the tip of the iceberg, the report says that 57 human trafficking and related cases were prosecuted in the country in , of whom 39 were child victims. These factors especially make Roma children, who also suffer discrimination, vulnerable to being trafficked, exploited and abused.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, social prejudice often leads public sentiment to brand trafficking victims, including exploited children, as willing prostitutes and so they attract little empathy. Trafficking of children in Bosnia Herzegovina mostly occurs within the borders of the country. But recently, there have been sporadic cases of cross-border trafficking as well, with some children trafficked to other European nations according to the report.
At the same time, the report says that the recent rapid increase in Balkan tourist arrivals has also increased the risk of child sexual exploitation. With tourist numbers increasing by about eight percent per year in the last few years, and more than 1.
But high numbers of outsiders can make it difficult for communities to monitor the safety of children. There is an urgent need for improvements in the legal framework to combat this threat. The country currently has no concrete legislation or legal provision that deals with the sexual exploitation of children by travelers and tourists, however, some travel and tourism companies have signed codes of conduct and agreed to take action to protect children, such as training their staff on how to react to suspected cases of child sexual exploitation.
Other laws to protect children are also lacking in the country and this is affecting the behaviour of offenders. The complex legal framework in Bosnia and Herzegovina, exacerbated by some noted instances of corruption amongst the police allows organized criminals to exploit weaknesses in the system. The report also notes that Bosnian law enforcement officials even found literature online that trains potential sex offenders on how to communicate to and gain the trust of children, and between and , there has been a concurrent increase in child sexual abuse material identified in the country.