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Searching For My Daughter, A Human Trafficking Tale


September 3, 2013 / The Topeka Capital-Journal

My name is Ljiljana Milovanovic, one of thousands of Serbian mothers who are searching for the truth in regards to what happened to the babies we gave birth to in Serbian hospitals.

On March 3rd 1975, in Krusevac Serbia, I gave birth to a baby girl, who Doctors told me, had passed away due to complications, after the first two hours of life. Both me, and my spouse were left to deal with the devastating news that our firstborn daughter would never come home with us. 

We have lived with the pain and heartache of losing a child for over the past 38 years. And then unexpectedly on June 3rd 2011, once more, we were shocked and traumatized to learn that what we had known for 38 years was a deliberate fabricated lie. Our daughter had never died after she was born, rather she was born healthy and then taken from the Hospital and most likely trafficked and sold to someone else.

On that fateful day in June 2011 as I had unknowingly gone to Krusevac City Hall to request some family papers, I happened to ask for the archived documents for my deceased daughter. Instead of receiving a death certificate for my baby, I was horrified to see a copy of a live birth registration from the Hospital for her. I subsequently was further horrified to obtain a copy of a subsequent birth registration for her on a separate date and time, with my forged signature. 

Initial shock and confusion led to horror as further paperwork revealed a parents worst nightmare ~ our child was indeed born alive and then subsequently released from hospital to unknown people. At that point my search for answers and the truth of what happened to my baby girl had commenced. The road to seeking the truth has been extremely difficult, and filled with many obstacles, barriers, and huge road blocks.  

I came to first hand experience the problems of present day corruption in Serbia, within the healthcare system, the local government of my town, as well as many other federal government ministries, including the legal system itself. 

Not one single level of government nor government official was willing to respond to both my written and personal requests for information leading to the whereabouts of my missing daughter. Not once single person has been willing to meet with me nor has allowed me to see documentation, both medical and civil, that would explain what happened to my daughter in 1975.

Under the Serbian Constitution articles 51/52, a citizen of Serbia has the right to freedom of access to public information, specifically when that information is of a private and personal nature, i.e. hospital medical records.

Until this day, I still am unable to obtain access to both my own medical history, and that of my baby daughter, most importantly the information surrounding the events of her delivery and subsequent discharge from Krusevac hospital.  

Repeated requests to receive copies of personal historical medical information for both myself and my daughter, have been answered with multiple excuses for not being able to produce these documents. Those excuses range from, the inability to provide archived documentation due to its destruction from various elements, i.e.from boiler explosions and flooding, to mice “eating the archives”….. all unacceptable responses to a woman who has learned that the daughter she gave birth to has been taken from her.

The office of the OMBUDSMAN of Serbia, Mr Sasa Jankovic, has said that there are competent and willing people in government who are prepared to once and for all settle the thousands of claims of missing babies from Hospitals. As one of these parents, I am prepared to go all the way to the end and do whatever needs to be done in order to bring pressure upon the Serbian government to stop hiding and ignoring these credible claims of baby trafficking.

On June 12, 2013, the current Minister of Health, Ms Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic had announced the ministries initiative to set up a direct SMS number to the ministry where citizens of Serbia would be able to notify her office in any case of potential corruption within the healthcare sector. My direct message to the ministries new initiative, where I personally wanted to share my first hand experience of dealing with corruption within the healthcare system, the response I received from her office was, “unfortunately, we can not do anything for you”?   

My question to the government of Serbia is “to whom do the laws of the Serbian government apply to?” Are these but symbolic departments and organizations. What irony is there when the Serbian government continues to speak about the need for awareness to corruption and the plight of human trafficking when actual examples and specific situations of corruption/trafficking continue to go ignored?

It is an absolute disgrace that the so-called “democratic republic” of Serbia continues to turn a blind eye to basic human rights that are being withheld from its very own citizens.

2013 Sep 3