The government maintained victim protection efforts. The government identified four potential victims of forced begging, compared to one officially recognized and one potential sex trafficking victim in 2017. All victims were underage females in 2017 and 2018. Police also identified 22 child beggars (107 in 2017) and accommodated most of the child beggars at local social welfare centers until releasing them to their parents or guardians. A multi-disciplinary national referral mechanism (NRM) provided standard operating procedures for identifying and referring victims to services. First responders carried out the preliminary identification of possible victims and then contacted police who formally recognized the individuals as potential trafficking victims. Police officers proactively screened foreign nationals and seasonal workers during the summer tourist season for indicators of trafficking. Observers continued to report the low number of identified victims reflected inadequate victim identification procedures. The government identified potential victims as an official trafficking victim only in cases with a final conviction or at times a formal indictment; however, the government provided the same services to potential victims and officially recognized victims. A multi-disciplinary coordination team led by the national coordinator monitored the implementation of the NRM and met twice a year and when a potential victim was identified. The government provided training on victim identification to police, labor inspectors, health workers, social workers, and workers in the tourism industry.
The government-funded NGO-run shelter accommodated three victims (four victims in 2017). OFTIP allocated €24,000 ($27,520) to the NGO-run shelter, compared to €23,500 ($26,950) in 2017 and €27,000 ($30,960) in 2016. The government-funded NGO-run shelter provided specialized services for trafficking victims, including vocational training and medical, psycho-social, legal, and reintegration assistance. The shelter could accommodate adult male, adult female, and child victims in separate living quarters in the shelter. Victims could leave the shelter after an assessment by police or by the social welfare centers in the case of children. The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (MLSW) operated local social and welfare centers and two regional institutions, which provided general services for victims of abuse, including trafficking victims. Although MLSW did not provide specialized services for trafficking victims, MLSW separated facilities for males and females. The law allowed foreign victims to acquire temporary residence permits from three months to one year with the ability to extend; no victims applied for temporary residence permits in 2016, 2017, or 2018.
The government penalized one potential victim for crimes committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking due to inadequate identification; experts reported the government deported a potential victim to Serbia. The law provided witness protection, free legal aid, and a psychologist to encourage victims to participate in prosecutions; however, observers continued to report the government assigned lawyers with little or no experience to potential victims. Prosecutors implemented victim-centered approaches for a child victim who participated in the ongoing prosecution of her trafficker; prosecutors video recorded her testimony in the presence of a social worker, requested a female judge, and separated her from the trafficker to prevent re-traumatization. However, observers reported law enforcement failed to protect a potential victim from intimidation and threats to change her testimony from her at-large perpetrator. The law also allowed for the possibility of restitution through civil suits. The law on compensation of victims intended to provide financial assistance to victims of violent crimes; however, this law will not go into effect until Montenegro becomes a member of the EU. No victim has ever received restitution in civil or criminal proceedings; observers reported some prosecutors did not know they could make claims during criminal proceedings.