NORTH MACEDONIA: Tier 2
The Government of North Macedonia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. Despite the documented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity, the government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore North Macedonia remained on Tier 2. These efforts included convicting more traffickers and issuing significant sentences. The government identified more victims and increased overall prevention efforts, such as drafting the 2021-2025 National Strategy and National Action Plan and regularly convening coordinating bodies for virtual meetings. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government diverted funding for victim protection towards pandemic response efforts, which jeopardized the continuation of mobile identification teams (mobile teams) and operations at the shelter for trafficking victims. Police did not have adequate funding and equipment to conduct proactive investigations, and the Organized Crime and Corruption Prosecution Office (OCCPO) lacked sufficient resources, including staff, to handle all cases under its jurisdiction. Inadequate identification efforts and corruption put potential victims at risk of being penalized for crimes they were compelled to commit. Official complicity in trafficking crimes remained a concern.