III. Country Narratives - Tier 1

Trafficking in Persons Report
U.S. Department of State
July 2001

Austria (Tier 1)

Austria is a destination and transit country for women trafficked primarily for the purpose of sexual exploitation from Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and the Balkans, into Austria and other western European countries. Women also are trafficked from Asia and Latin American for domestic labor.

The Government of Austria meets the minimum standards in combating trafficking in persons. A trafficking law provides for penalties commensurate with those for rape. However, NGO's have called for an expansion of the legal definition of trafficking to include exploitation for domestic labor and coerced marriages. In 1999 over half of the 49 trafficking complaints filed under the law against trafficking for prostitution resulted in convictions. The Ministry of Interior estimates that most traffickers are prosecuted under criminal law provisions on alien smuggling. In 1999 there were 2,949 cases filed under the Aliens Act and 374 convictions. The Government provides temporary residence to victims of trafficking who are prepared to testify or intending to raise civil law claims. The Government funds research on the problem of trafficking as well as NGO prevention efforts, including anti-trafficking brochures and law enforcement workshops. The Government also provides funding for intervention centers that provide emergency housing and psychological, legal, and health-related assistance to victims. During its EU Presidency in 1999, the Government co-hosted a conference about trafficking for over 21 countries. The Government is also active with UN and OSCE international efforts against trafficking.

Belgium (Tier 1)

Belgium is a transit and destination country for trafficked persons primarily from sub-Saharan Africa (especially Nigeria), Central and Eastern Europe (especially Albania), and Asia (especially China). Victims are primarily young women trafficked for purposes of prostitution or, in the case of victims from China, young men destined for manual labor in restaurants and sweatshops.

The Government of Belgium meets the minimum standards for combating trafficking in persons. A 1995 law specifically prohibits trafficking in persons. The penalty for trafficking is commensurate with those for rape or sexual assault. The Government actively investigates and prosecutes cases of trafficking. From January 1, 1998, through August 31, 1999, the authorities issued arrest warrants for 429 persons. In the same period, verdicts were rendered in 142 cases, 104 of which resulted in convictions. Sentences averaged from 2 to 6 years' imprisonment and fines were between $2,200 and $22,700. Victims of trafficking are given temporary residence for 45 days to decide whether to testify in court against the perpetrators. During this time they are allowed access to a range of services and shelter provided by three NGO's with Government support. The Government assists victims in returning to their country of origin if they decide not to testify in court. Victims who agree to testify receive a temporary work authorization and continued assistance from the designated NGO's. Victims who cooperate with the investigation are usually granted permanent residence in Belgium upon completion of the trial. The Government works closely with and provides funding to NGO's and international organizations for anti-trafficking activities.

Canada (Tier 1)

Canada is a primarily a transit and destination country for trafficking in persons, primarily from East Asia (especially China and Korea), Eastern Europe, Russia, and Honduras. There are also isolated cases of Canadian minors trafficked by pimps to the United States for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Victims of trafficking who come to Canada are young women trafficked for purposes of prostitution or persons destined for manual labor in restaurants, sweatshops, and agricultural work.

The Government of Canada meets the minimum standards in combating trafficking in persons. The law does not specifically prohibit trafficking, but the Government actively investigates and prosecutes trafficking cases using sections of the criminal code and immigration law. In Toronto alone, officials conducted over 700 arrests for trafficking-related crimes in 2000. The penalties used for trafficking are commensurate with those for rape or sexual assault, although aggravated sexual assault carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. An interdepartmental working group on trafficking in women coordinates national efforts. Victims may apply for permanent residence under the "Humanitarian and Compassionate" provisions of the Immigration Act. The Government provides funding for victim assistance programs in Canada and supports prevention efforts in source countries through NGO's in Canada. Victims may be deported if they have committed a crime. Canada does not have standardized protection provisions for foreign minors.

Colombia (Tier 1)

Colombia is a source country for trafficked persons, especially women and children, to Asia (Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong), Western Europe (the Netherlands and Spain), and the United States. Most victims are young women trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation.

The Government of Colombia meets the minimum standards to combat trafficking in persons despite resource constraints and an inefficient judicial system. A new anti-trafficking law is scheduled to go into effect in July 2001. The new penalty for trafficking is commensurate with the penalty for rape or sexual assault. The Government actively investigates and prosecutes cases of trafficking. Between 1998 and 2000, a special sex crimes unit within the Prosecutor General's office investigated 99 cases of trafficking which resulted in at least 13 convictions using existing statutes. The National Police rescued 115 victims in Colombia and abroad from 1999 to 2000. Government officials with NGO representatives arrange to meet returning victims at the airport. Victims do have access to generally limited government social services. The Government has also instructed its consulates in foreign countries to provide legal and social assistance to victims of trafficking and has contracted 46 legal advisors and 16 social workers to help Colombian victims abroad. The Government participates in anti-trafficking prevention efforts, and works closely with other governments, international organizations, and NGO's.

Germany (Tier 1)

Germany is primarily a transit and destination country for women and girls trafficked from Ukraine, Poland, Russia, and other states of the former Soviet Union and Central Europe for purposes of sexual exploitation. Victims often are trafficked through Germany to other EU countries.

The Government meets the minimum standards to combat trafficking in persons. The law specifically prohibits trafficking in persons, and the penalty for trafficking is commensurate with those for rape or sexual assault. The Government actively investigates and prosecutes cases of trafficking. According to the Federal Office for Criminal Investigation, 257 cases of trafficking were investigated at federal and state levels in 1999. Of those, 176 cases were prosecuted, which resulted in 133 convictions. The federal government provides specialized training to police on trafficking. The Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women, and Youth (Family Ministry) heads the Interagency Working Group on Trafficking in Women. The Family Ministry also provides support to the Coordination Network's (abbreviated KOK in German) work with victims' assistance. KOK is an umbrella organization of 30 NGO's working on trafficking. Victims of trafficking are granted a 4-week grace period during which they are allowed access to services and shelter. Officials are required to notify a cooperating NGO and secure the services of a counselor for the victim. A victim can be deported after 4 weeks if the victim is not willing or able to testify against the perpetrator. In this case, the victim is deported with the help of a cooperating NGO in the country of origin. The Government, through its embassies, disseminates information brochures about German residency and work permit requirements, women's crisis centers, health care, and the threat of trafficking. Additionally, the federal government sponsors conferences and networking meetings for institutions aiding victims of trafficking.

Hong Kong (Tier 1)

Hong Kong is primarily a transit location for the trafficking of persons, although the full extent of trafficking is not clear. About 50 million travelers go to or through Hong Kong annually. Authorities make several thousand arrests annually for immigration violations by persons transiting or present in Hong Kong. About three-fourths are from elsewhere in China; most of the remainder are from the Philippines and South Asia. Some foreign domestic workers, particularly from Indonesia, have been recruited abroad and brought to Hong Kong only to be placed in coercive working and living conditions. There have also been reports that some women from Vietnam have been brought to Hong Kong as "mail-order brides," who, once in Hong Kong, are vulnerable to exploitation. The authorities are aware of both these problems and have taken steps to remedy them.

Hong Kong meets the minimum standards and is making significant efforts to combat trafficking. Hong Kong has had a long history of stringent anticorruption rule of law tradition and practices. The Government's efforts to combat trafficking are part of broader efforts to combat alien smuggling. Government authorities regularly monitor illegal migration and human smuggling through Hong Kong's air and seaports and coordinate with the People's Republic of China and foreign governments. Immigration, customs, and police departments are well trained and equipped to detect and investigate trafficking-related criminal activities. The Customs Department deploys over 1,500 officers at the airport, boundary control points, container terminals, and Hong Kong waters to combat human smuggling. The police force continuously patrols land and sea boundaries to ensure border integrity and aggressively investigates triad involvement in organized migrant smuggling. Although Hong Kong does not have a specific anti-trafficking law, the Government prosecutes violators under various laws prohibiting trafficking-related activities. The Government prints and distributes widely pamphlets in numerous languages explaining the rights of and services available to foreign domestic workers. Trafficking victims usually are deported, rather than formally charged. However, legal aid is available to those who choose to pursue legal proceedings against an employer and immunity from prosecution is often made available to those who assist in investigation and prosecution of traffickers. The Government does not provide funding to foreign or domestic NGO's for services to victims.

Italy (Tier 1)

Italy is a destination country and, to a lesser extent, a transit route for trafficked women from Albania, Eastern Europe, the New Independent States, China, Nigeria, and South America.

The Government of Italy meets the minimum standards for combating trafficking in persons. There is no specific law that prohibits trafficking; however, law enforcement authorities use penal codes that prohibit exploitation of prostitution (with a penalty of up to 6 years and significant fines), slavery, and assisting the entry of an illegal alien. The Government prosecuted 500 persons in 1998-99 for crimes connected with trafficking and convicted more than 100 defendants; many cases were continuing at the time of this report. The Government provides specialized training to sensitize police to trafficking and distinguish between trafficking and smuggling. The Government has sponsored NGO anti-trafficking campaigns such as hotlines, posters, and television advertisements. The Government works closely with NGO's and sponsors anti-trafficking training in the source countries of Albania and Nigeria. The Government Inter-Ministerial Committee on Trafficking has coordinated conferences sponsored by the Ministries of Interior and Justice to combat trafficking. In February 2000, the Department of Equal Opportunity announced funding for 49 national projects designed to assist victims. The Government provides temporary residence to victims, has safe houses and shelters, and sponsors mobile units to provide medical and psychological services to victims. The Government also cooperates in international efforts against trafficking.

The Netherlands (Tier 1)

The Netherlands is a destination and transit country for trafficked women and girls from around the world, including Nigeria, Thailand, China, South America, and countries of Central Europe; victims are trafficked primarily for sexual exploitation purposes. According to the Dutch Foundation Against Trafficking in Women, there are between 2,000 and 3,000 trafficked women in the Netherlands.

The Government meets the minimum standards to combat trafficking in persons. The law prohibits trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation purposes. The penalty for trafficking is approximately commensurate with penalties for rape or sexual assault; however, additional penalties under other laws can be applied in addition to the trafficking penalty. The Government actively investigates and prosecutes cases of trafficking. For example, from 1997 through the first half of 2000, there were 418 cases reported to the office of the prosecutor. Of these, 253 cases were tried in court, resulting in 216 convictions. No information on actual sentencing was available at the time of this report. Victims of trafficking have a 3-month period to consider pressing charges against the perpetrator(s), during which time the victim may receive services, shelter, and social security benefits. If a victim decides not to press charges, the victim is repatriated, and the reason for expulsion does not appear on the victim's identity papers. A victim may be eligible for permanent residency on humanitarian grounds in situations of extreme distress. The Government works closely with and provides anti-trafficking funding to domestic and international NGO's.

Spain (Tier 1)

Spain is a destination and transit country for trafficked women. Trafficking is almost exclusively for the purpose of sexual exploitation, although there is also trafficking for forced labor in agriculture and sweatshops. Trafficking victims come from the Western Hemisphere (including Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Brazil), Sub-Saharan Africa (Nigeria, Guinea, and Sierra Leone), northern Africa and Eastern Europe.

The Government of Spain meets the minimum standards. Immigration law specifically prohibits the act of trafficking, and the penalty is commensurate with the penalty for rape or sexual assault. The Government actively investigates and prosecutes cases of trafficking. For example, in 2000 police arrested over a thousand individuals involved in some aspect of trafficking in persons or migrant smuggling. Although statistics on convictions for trafficking are unavailable, the authorities prosecuted 119 persons for the crime of "illegal trafficking in persons," 577 persons for "illegal trafficking in workers," and 312 persons for forcing women (Spanish or foreign) into prostitution. The Government supports anti-trafficking public information campaigns within the country, and provides development assistance to source countries, primarily in Latin America. Undocumented persons, including trafficked persons, are eligible to receive temporary residence if they agree to testify against the perpetrators. At the conclusion of legal proceedings, these witnesses may remain in Spain or return to their country of origin. Undocumented persons may receive medical assistance in emergency situations. Undocumented persons may be detained for up to 40 days during deportation hearings, and are entitled to free legal assistance. The Government works with and provides funding to NGO's assisting trafficked victims.

Switzerland (Tier 1)

Switzerland is primarily a destination country for trafficked women, and is also a transit country. The number of women trafficked into Switzerland is increasing. Most of the women trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation originate from former Eastern bloc and Soviet countries, including the Balkan countries, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. A decreasing number of women are from Thailand, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Colombia, and some African countries such as Cameroon.

The Government of Switzerland meets the minimum standards and is taking significant additional steps at the federal level to combat trafficking. The law criminalizes trafficking in persons for purposes of sexual exploitation. The penalties for trafficking are commensurate with those for rape and sexual assault. The Government actively investigates and prosecutes cases of trafficking. Approximate statistics available at the time of this report indicate that from 1998-2000, the authorities investigated an average of 30 cases per year under the law prohibiting human trade, with an average of four convictions each year. In addition, the approximately 70 cases investigated annually under "encouragement to prostitution," with 29 convictions in 1998 (the latest period for which information was available) probably include traffickers. Since 1905, Switzerland has had a government office designated to combat trafficking of girls for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation, which has evolved to include all forms of trafficking. Since 1993, the law on aid to victims has offered aid to crime victims through counseling and protection, and has safeguarded victims' rights in criminal prosecutions with special rules for trial procedures and for compensation and redress. While cantonal police authorities often rapidly deport women charged with illegal prostitution, federal police are encouraging them to delay deportation to allow for counseling of trafficking victims and to increase the likelihood that victims may testify against traffickers. The Federal Police Office regularly exchanges information with NGO's on networks, transit routes, and other trafficking trends. Federal and regional governments provide NGO's with funding for services to victims. The Government has pilot programs at embassies in source countries, such as Thailand, to educate visa applicants about trafficking risks. In response to a March 2000 parliamentary motion, the Federal Council (Cabinet) appointed an interagency working group to assess anti-trafficking and victim protection measures.

Taiwan (Tier 1)

Taiwan is a destination point for internationally trafficked persons.  Some young women from Southeast Asia, primarily China and Thailand, are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.  Many enter Taiwan by gaining entry permits through sham marriages.  A small number of fugitive girls are trafficked internally for sexual exploitation.  Thai, Filipino, and Indonesian men sometimes face coercive employment situations created through the repayment of excessive broker fees from employment agencies.

The Taiwan authorities meet the minimum standards for combating trafficking. A number of laws incorporate anti-prostitution and some anti-trafficking elements; however, the legislature has not passed laws specific to trafficking. Authorities reportedly prosecuted two trafficking cases during 2000. Foreign victims of trafficking who have violated Taiwan's immigration laws are repatriated as quickly as possible.  Authorities provide funding to NGO's working with prostitutes and government social welfare agencies assist foreign workers who encounter abusive employment conditions.  If a child prostitute is involved, the police contact a social worker to assist the victim.  Police are trained in handling trafficking, prostitution, and cases of domestic violence.  Because Taiwan does not have diplomatic relations with most countries, formal cooperation on trafficking cases is not possible. Taiwan is ineligible for membership in the United Nations, and therefore cannot become a party to UN conventions, although the authorities make every effort to abide by the principles of the major UN anti-trafficking conventions, some of which have been incorporated in domestic laws and regulations.

United Kingdom (Tier 1)

The United Kingdom (UK) is a destination country for trafficked men, women, and girls. A Government-sponsored report estimates that up to 1,500 women and girls are trafficked into the UK annually for purposes of sexual exploitation from Eastern Europe and the Balkans, South America, Nigeria, Thailand, and Vietnam. Although there are no reliable data as to the numbers of victims, men, women, and children from the Indian sub-continent, Sri Lanka, Turkey, the former Yugoslavia, Romania, China, Congo, Angola, Colombia, and Ecuador also are trafficked to the UK; labor exploitation occurs primarily in agriculture, sweatshops, and industry.

The Government meets the minimum standards to combat trafficking in persons. The law does not specifically criminalize the act of trafficking; however, there is a range of other relevant laws that are used to prosecute perpetrators. The Government actively investigates and prosecutes cases of trafficking. For example, according to a 2000 Government-sponsored report, of eight trafficking cases involving sexual exploitation prosecuted in 1998, seven resulted in convictions and one case still was pending at the time of the report's release. Police and prosecutors can arrange for temporary residence status for victims, as well as legal, medical and psychological services. Victims are not treated as criminals nor are they detained, jailed, or deported. The Government funds foreign and domestic NGO's working on anti-trafficking issues, and has supported domestic efforts to establish NGO's addressing assistance to victims. The Government supports prevention programs especially through its missions overseas. For example, it distributes anti-trafficking literature and videos in the Balkans and other source countries. There is no formal interagency mechanism; however, the relevant agencies do coordinate their anti-trafficking efforts.