In its third-round evaluation report the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) welcomes North Macedonia‘s progress in developing the legislative anti-human trafficking framework, but calls for its better implementation in terms of victims’ access to justice and effective remedies. Based on a GRETA visit to the country in March last year and information provided by the authorities and civil society, the report notes that the number of formally identified victims has been low (between two and nine per year, except for 2021 when 39 victims from Taiwan were identified), with a shift to labour exploitation as the predominant form of exploitation.
The improvements of the legislative framework include the 2018 Law on Foreigners, which provides for a recovery and reflection period and renewable residence permits for victims of trafficking based on their personal situation. A specific provision on the non-punishment of victims of human trafficking was included in the Criminal Code. Further, the Law on the Payment of Monetary Compensation to Victims of Violent Crimes was adopted in November 2022, introducing state compensation for victims of human trafficking. The designation of the Office of the Ombudsman as National Rapporteur on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings is also welcomed by GRETA.
GRETA finds that the provisions for legal assistance to victims of human trafficking lack clarity and notes gaps in their application. It urges the authorities to ensure a clear basis to provide legal assistance as soon as there are reasonable grounds for believing that a person is a victim of trafficking.