On October 7, the European Court of Human Rights issued a long-awaited verdict in the case of Zoletic and Others v. Azerbaijan - 20116/12, in favour of 33 citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who were recruited in 2009 and taken to Azerbaijan where they were forced to work.
The case of labor exploitation of the citizens of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia in Azerbaijan is, according to its size and the number of exploited persons, one of the largest, if not the largest registered labor exploitation case in this region. According to data which workers, whom we talked with, there were 920-1040 workers engaged in the construction sites ran by SerbAz Company in Azerbaijan.
The court ruled that The Respondent State failed to comply with its procedural obligation to institute and conduct an effective investigation of the applicants' claims concerning the alleged forced labour and human trafficking. The state of Azerbaijan was aware that workers are potential victims of human trafficking and forced labour. This information was made available to government officials and authorities based on several reports: (1) ASTRA report (a report based on the testimony of injured workers compiled by ASTRA in cooperation with partner organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia), (2) the 2011 report of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance ECRI, and (3) the report of the Council of Europe Group of Experts on Trafficking in Human Beings GRETA from 2014.
In addition, all injured workers were awarded compensation for non-pecuniary damage of 5,000 euros, which should be paid to them by the state of Azerbaijan.
We are very pleased that we have contributed to the fact that even this piece of justice that the victims of the SerBAz case deserve sees the light of day. You can find more about the verdict and the SerBaz case (with a few useful links) HERE!
In the past 20 years, our citizens have been exploited in Malta, Azerbaijan, Russia, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and others. At the same time, both domestic and foreign citizens were exploited in Serbia, but so far there has been no verdict in Serbia on this occasion.
Circumstances change, what you wanted and what motivates you to always do more than expected, sometimes get such a positive outcome. We expect that the EC ruling will have a direct, positive and encouraging effect on the protection of victims of human trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation in our country as well.