The Czech Republic is a source, transit, and destination country for women who are subjected to forced prostitution, and a source, transit, and destination country for men and women subjected to forced labor. Women from many countries including the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Moldova, Nigeria, the Philippines, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Vietnam are subjected to forced prostitution in the Czech Republic and also travel through the Czech Republic en route to Western European countries, including Germany and the United Kingdom, where they are subjected to forced prostitution. Men and women from the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, and Vietnam are subjected to forced labor in the construction, automotive, agricultural, and service sectors in the Czech Republic and also transit through the Czech Republic to other countries in the European Union. Roma women from the Czech Republic are subjected to forced prostitution and forced labor internally and in destination countries, including the United Kingdom. Men and women from the Czech Republic are subjected to trafficking in the United Kingdom, and women from the Czech Republic are subjected to forced labor in the United States. During the year, there were two cases of alleged domestic servitude in the houses of foreign diplomats working in the Czech Republic.
The Government of the Czech Republic fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government issued the first final conviction of labor trafficking offenders and sentenced them to significant time in prison. The number of trafficking victims assisted through the government’s program to protect victims assisting law enforcement dropped considerably. The government adopted its fourth national strategy to combat trafficking. However, authorities eliminated funding for new prevention activities in 2012, though it restored funding in 2013.
Recommendations for Czech Republic: Ensure trafficking victims are thoroughly explained their rights at the outset of identification and encouraged to cooperate with law enforcement; robustly implement new regulations to monitor and, as appropriate, investigate and prosecute labor agencies to ensure they do not exploit foreign workers through debt bondage or forced labor using deceptive labor agreements, the use of force, or threat of force; ensure workers are given written contracts they are able to understand, as required by new legislation; increase training opportunities for judges on anti-trafficking legislation; ensure existing trafficking identification criteria used by law enforcement authorities clearly incorporate indicators for forced labor; continue to train first responders, including labor inspectors, police, and state contracting officers, on labor trafficking victim identification criteria and evolving trends in labor trafficking; ensure adequate shelter space is available for large-scale cases, including labor trafficking cases; ensure that presumed victims of trafficking are referred promptly to care; vigorously investigate and prosecute both sex and labor trafficking cases; strengthen bilateral coordination on trafficking with source countries, including neighboring EU countries; conduct large-scale public awareness-raising campaigns, particularly on labor trafficking; increase referrals to victims for assistance by law enforcement personnel; and accede to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.
The Government of the Czech Republic demonstrated strengthened anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period, as it obtained its first labor trafficking convictions. The government prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons under Section 168 of its criminal code, revised in 2010, prescribing punishments of up to 15 years’ imprisonment. These punishments are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government continued to prosecute some trafficking cases initiated before enactment of Section 168 under Sections 232a of the criminal code. During the reporting period, the police conducted 24 investigations of 22 offenders under Section 168, compared with 19 investigations of 29 offenders in 2011. In 2012, Czech authorities prosecuted 28 people under Section 168, and five individuals in cases brought under the old Section 232a. In contrast, Czech authorities in 2011 prosecuted 12 offenders previously investigated under Section 232a, and 21 offenders under Section 168. During 2012, Czech courts convicted five defendants under Section 168, a decrease from 10 convictions in 2011. Six defendants were convicted under Section 232a in 2012, compared with nine in 2011. Ten of the 11 defendants convicted in 2012 received prison terms ranging between four and eight and a half years’ imprisonment; one received a conditional sentence. Czech judges more readily viewed forced labor cases as simple fraud rather than trafficking, in light of offenders’ use of non-typical coercive practices. However, courts issued their first two post-appeal decisions on labor trafficking cases in 2012. In total, an appellate court affirmed the convictions of six offenders for labor trafficking; these offenders received prison sentences ranging from four to eight years.
The organized crime branch of the Czech police maintained a specialized anti-trafficking unit that offered trainings for investigators in different departments. During the year, the Czech judicial academy offered two anti-trafficking courses specifically for prosecutors and judges. Czech authorities collaborated on trafficking investigations during 2012 with foreign governments, including one coordinated by Eurojust. The government did not report any prosecutions of government employees for alleged complicity in trafficking-related offenses during the reporting period.
The Czech government demonstrated limited progress in its victim protection efforts during the reporting period. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MLSA) provided the equivalent of approximately $251,400 in 2012 to NGOs providing care for trafficking victims regardless of victims’ participation with law enforcement. Government-funded NGOs provided shelter and care to approximately 55 victims of trafficking in 2012, of whom at least 22 were newly identified during the year. The government provided both foreign and Czech victims with a 60-day reflection period, in which victims received comprehensive care and determined whether to cooperate with law enforcement. The Ministry of Interior (MOI) continued to fund its witness support program, which provided funding to NGOs caring for victims willing to cooperate with law enforcement. However, there were only six victims in this program in 2012, compared with 17 in 2011. As a result, the MOI disbursed the equivalent of approximately only $30,000; this marked a decline from 2011, when the MOI allocated the equivalent of approximately $189,500 to NGOs for victim assistance and trafficking prevention projects. Police reported identifying an additional 52 victims of trafficking who did not enter the program. In 2012, the MOI also altered the program’s funding mechanism; rather than granting funds to multiple NGOs to provide services, the ministry openly advertised a contract for one NGO to be the primary partner, with the ability to sub-contract out to other NGOs. The change has reportedly caused a breakdown in communication and cooperation among NGOs and a decline in the number of NGOs participating in the government’s victim assistance program.
Law enforcement authorities continued to employ formal victim identification procedures and a victim referral mechanism, though experts suggested police could improve their identification and referral of victims. Foreign victims who cooperated with investigators received temporary residence, work visas, and support for the duration of the relevant legal proceedings. Upon conclusion of the court proceedings, victims could apply for permanent residency, although no victims did so in 2012. The MOI funded an NGO to assist the return of three Czech trafficking victims and the voluntary repatriation of one victim who was trafficked in the Czech Republic. NGOs did not report any victims of trafficking who were punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked.
The Czech government demonstrated weakened prevention efforts in the reporting period. The MOI did not provide any NGO funding for new prevention activities in 2012, though the MOI recommenced funding in 2013. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized three anti-trafficking trainings for consular officers, reaching 70 attendees. Informational brochures for workers coming to the Czech Republic were available online in eight different languages and were distributed by consular officers. The MLSA inspected 113 licensed labor recruitment agencies and 42 companies that use recruitment agencies and found 66 in violation of contract compliance, such as hours and pay. The interior minister chaired the Inter-Ministerial Coordination Group for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, which coordinated anti-trafficking efforts, compiled and analyzed data, and planned future strategies. The group presented the country’s fourth national anti-trafficking strategy covering 2012 to 2015 that aimed to train more police, judges, and labor inspectors, as well as to research vulnerabilities in the Roma population and industries at risk for forced labor. A unit in the MOI served as the national rapporteur and prepared a comprehensive annual report on anti-trafficking patterns and programs, which it released publicly. The government continued to fund an NGO-run hotline to identify victims of trafficking; in 2012, the hotline received calls from 451 separate individuals. There were no reported investigations of child sex tourism or forced child labor during the reporting period. The government took no formal steps to reduce demand for commercial sex acts during the year. The Czech Republic is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.