Addressing child exploitation in begging and illegal marriages in Montenegro through a multisectoral approach 

28-30 June 2023, Bijela, Montenegro: Child marriage and begging are not always considered as a criminal offense, but rather part of a tradition and customs of the most marginalised communities, especially children in the Roma and Egyptian communities. However, this practice exposes the children to exploitation and risks of being trafficked for the purpose of various forms of exploitation.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) supports Montenegro in countering this phenomenon by promoting collaboration and fostering an inter-institutional exchange of perspectives to enhance the current practices in preventing and combating trafficking in persons for child exploitation, particularly in begging and illegal marriages.

In partnership with the Center for Education in Judiciary and State Prosecution, UNODC organized a national multidisciplinary workshop on “Combating Child Exploitation in Begging and Illegal Marriages in Montenegro: A Criminal Justice Response”, in the framework of project: UN.Locking Impunity of Traffickers and Supporting Justice for Victims of Trafficking in Persons in Southeastern Europe, funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP). A total of 19 representatives from the police, prosecutor's offices, courts and two prominent NGOs working in this field came together to enhance their capacity in countering trafficking in persons for the purpose of child exploitation within these contexts, with a specific focus on the most vulnerable categories, such as the Roma and Egyptian population.

UNODC uses a methodology tailored to the country context, considering cultural, legal, and resource-specific factors. The workshop facilitated knowledge exchange among experts who have been actively involved in combating trafficking in persons, and participants were encouraged to present their views on specific tasks, potential obstacles, and effective solutions.

The multidisciplinary nature of the workshop fostered a deeper understanding of specific issues, enabling representatives from various institutions to go through the case study and to examine the different phases of a real case related to illegal marriages highlighting the various challenges in all stages, but also identifying good practices. The study was based on a sentenced case that was part of a recent review and analysis conducted.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly Target 16.2 to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children.