Germany is a source, transit, and destination country for women, children, and men subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Approximately 88 percent of identified victims of sex trafficking originate in Europe, including 26 percent from Romania, 22 percent from within Germany, and 15 percent from Bulgaria. Non-European victims originate in Nigeria, other parts of Africa, Asia, and the Western Hemisphere. Approximately 14 percent of the trafficking victims are children. The majority of sex trafficking victims have been exploited in bars, brothels, and apartments; approximately 27 percent of identified sex trafficking victims report that they had agreed initially to engage in prostitution, a decrease from prior years. Nigerian victims of trafficking are often coerced into prostitution through voodoo rituals. Organized motorcycle gangs are involved in facilitating trafficking in Germany. Victims of forced labor have been identified or suspected in the agriculture sector, hotels, construction sites, meat processing plants, and restaurants. Labor trafficking victims originate in Africa; Indonesia; Latin America; and Europe, including Latvia, Bulgaria, and Romania. Some forced labor victims have also been identified in domestic service, including in diplomatic households. Members of ethnic minorities, such as Roma, as well as foreign unaccompanied minors who arrived in Germany, were particularly vulnerable to human trafficking; including forced begging and coerced criminal behavior. Various governments reported German citizen participation in sex tourism.
The Government of Germany fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The Government of Germany continued to identify a large number of sex trafficking victims and prosecute the cases of their exploitation. The government also took new steps to protect domestic workers in diplomatic communities, by establishing an in-person briefing for domestic workers and by funding opportunities for civil suits. Otherwise, however, the government’s labor trafficking efforts were significantly weaker than those against sex trafficking. Fewer victims of labor trafficking were identified and those labor trafficking offenders who were convicted avoided jail sentences. Some officials noted that the government’s program to oppose labor trafficking was not as well structured as that for sex trafficking.
Recommendations for Germany: Increase the government’s efforts to fight labor trafficking; increase proactive identification of labor trafficking victims; ensure that labor trafficking is fully integrated into Cooperation Agreements at the state level; explore ways to increase the number of convicted trafficking offenders who receive sentences commensurate with the gravity of the crime committed; vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict labor trafficking offenders; consider expanding longer-term residence permit eligibility for trafficking victims that is not reliant on the victim’s willingness to testify at trial; better advertise and apply to trafficking victims the full range of residency permits available on humanitarian grounds, which are not linked to a victim’s willingness to testify; encourage prosecutors’ offices to assign specialized prosecutors to trafficking cases; establish an independent national anti-trafficking rapporteur to produce critical assessments on the Government of Germany’s anti-trafficking efforts; revise Section 233 to ensure that the proof required under the law is not unduly restricting investigations and prosecutions of labor trafficking offenses; explore reasons why many trafficking victims are not provided care through the counseling centers; standardize victim assistance measures and government-civil society cooperation across the 16 federal states, taking into account Germany’s federal structure; encourage victims to take advantage of financial restitution procedures available to them in court; increase asset seizure in trafficking cases; strengthen awareness campaigns targeting beneficiaries of forced labor and clients of the sex trade, particularly in the most frequented red light districts; ensure the prosecution of German offenders of child sex tourism; provide more consistent and stable funding of victim assistance at the state level; consider creating a mechanism to coordinate German efforts to address forced labor; and ensure that reported conviction data include all convictions for trafficking in persons.
The Government of Germany sustained its high rate of investigating and prosecuting sex trafficking offenses during the reporting period, but struggled to investigate and prosecute labor trafficking cases and sentenced few convicted trafficking offenders to non-suspended jail terms. In 2011, the German authorities again reported that the overwhelming majority of convicted labor and sex trafficking offenders were given suspended sentences. This practice derived from a provision in the criminal code allowing the suspension of assigned prison terms of less than two years, particularly for first-time offenders. Another factor that complicates tracking of trafficking convictions in Germany is that when a trafficking charge is combined with an accompanying criminal charge that has a higher statutory sentence than the trafficking statute, the German authorities do not record the conviction as a trafficking conviction. Nevertheless, the reported statistics reveal that convicted trafficking offenders frequently avoided imprisonment, creating potential safety problems for victims of trafficking and a weakened deterrence of trafficking offenses.
Germany prohibits all forms of trafficking; sex trafficking is criminalized under Section 232 of the penal code, and forced labor is criminalized under Section 233. Punishments prescribed in these statutes range from six months’ to 10 years’ imprisonment, and are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In 2011, the last year for which statistics were available, the German state and federal authorities completed 482 sex trafficking investigations, compared with 470 in 2010. Many of these investigations were conducted in tandem with investigations for rape, violence, smuggling, narcotics violations, or other crimes. The government investigated 13 labor trafficking cases in 2011, a decrease from 24 in 2010. Sex trafficking prosecutions in Germany have declined over the past three years. German authorities prosecuted 139 defendants for sex trafficking in 2011, compared with 172 in 2010. The rate of successful prosecutions improved, however, as 117 offenders (84 percent) were convicted in 2011, compared with 115 (66 percent) convicted in 2010. Courts continued to suspend sentences in the majority of cases recorded as trafficking; of the 117 offenders convicted, only 28 were actually imprisoned, receiving sentences between two and 10 years in prison. German authorities prosecuted nine alleged labor trafficking offenders in 2011, a decrease from the 17 prosecuted in 2010. Four of these offenders were convicted, but none received prison sentences. Government officials and NGOs report that Section 233 on labor trafficking was unduly restrictive and difficult to apply in practice. Experts also cited lack of law enforcement officials’ awareness that men could be victims of trafficking as an impediment to obtaining successful prosecutions. Officials and NGOs continued to report difficulties in prosecuting cases when victims, particularly those from Romania and Bulgaria, withdrew testimony. Whereas sex trafficking cases are frequently led by prosecutors with experience in leading victims through a difficult trial process, many labor trafficking cases were assigned to financial or economic crime sections with less experience working with human trafficking statutes or victims of violent crimes. NGOs and officials reported mixed experiences with judges; while some understood victims’ trauma, others subjected victims to repeated testimonies or prejudice.
The Federal Criminal Police collaborated with several governments, including Switzerland, Bulgaria, Poland, and Nigeria, as well as with EUROPOL, to investigate trafficking cases. The German Judicial Academy offered anti-trafficking training to prosecutors and judges. The Federal Criminal Police organized several specialized seminars to educate investigating officers and prosecutors on trafficking topics, focusing, for example, on Nigerian trafficking victims. The Government of Germany did not investigate or prosecute government officials suspected of trafficking-related complicity during the year.
The German government improved its victim protection efforts during the reporting period, strengthening standards for the care of trafficking victims. The Federal Family Ministry funded an umbrella organization representing 39 NGOs and counseling centers in approximately 45 German cities and all of the states that provided or facilitated shelter, medical and psychological care, legal assistance, vocational support, and other services largely for adult female victims. Male victims were offered assistance, but some refused housing. Many state governments provided significant supplemental funding for the support of trafficking victims, but others reduced their financial contributions to the NGOs providing care to trafficking victims, leaving the victim assistance in those states insecure. Authorities registered 640 sex trafficking victims in 2011, compared with 610 sex trafficking victims in 2010. German counseling centers cared for approximately one-third of the victims. The government identified 32 labor trafficking victims, the majority of whom were female. In approximately half of identified trafficking cases, the first contact between police and victims resulted from police measures. The German government offered trafficking victims a reflection period of three months and NGOs confirmed that it was applied in practice. The government offered trafficking victims a specific residence title for the duration of a criminal trial conditional on cooperation with law enforcement; victims were permitted to work during the trial. Most victims of trafficking who faced personal injury or threats to life or freedom in their countries of origin were granted long-term residence permits during the reporting period. German law permits prosecutors to decline to prosecute victims of trafficking who have committed minor crimes during the course of their trafficking experience. Observers reported that, though prosecutors in practice exercise this discretion, victims may have been penalized or deported on occasion before their legal status as victims of trafficking had been clarified.
German authorities encouraged trafficking victims to participate in investigations and prosecutions of trafficking offenders by enabling victims to join criminal cases as joint plaintiffs, and by providing them access to civil remedies. The government-funded anti-trafficking NGO umbrella organization published an information flyer on compensation options for victims of trafficking in several key languages; a partially government-funded project supported approximately 17 legal compensation suits throughout Germany during the reporting period.
The German government improved efforts to prevent human trafficking throughout the year, including through its increased outreach to the vulnerable community of domestic workers in diplomatic households. The government sustained funding for public awareness campaigns in Germany and abroad. The Federal Foreign Office, in cooperation with an NGO, published an updated version of an information brochure for domestic workers in diplomatic households. The government also updated its guidelines for such workers, providing new minimum wage standards, an annual in-person renewal of protocol identification, and a new model contract. The government also organized a briefing targeted for diplomats’ domestic workers to educate them on their rights in Germany.
Government officials observed that, overall, labor trafficking has not been as highly prioritized in Germany as sex trafficking. To address this gap, a labor alliance launched a project, funded in part by the Federal Labor Ministry. The project conducted research, awareness raising, and victim identification training on labor trafficking. The Federal-State Interagency Working Group on Trafficking in Persons, led by the family ministry, reviewed counter-trafficking issues, disseminated best practices, and provided input to new laws and directives. The working group collaborated with a variety of coordination bodies at the state government and local levels; not all of these local coordination agreements formally included labor trafficking. The German Federal Criminal Police continued to promote transparent self-reporting by publishing an annual report on trafficking in persons in Germany, describing law enforcement efforts, victims, trends, and challenges. German authorities collaborated with other European countries to raise awareness on child sex tourism and participated in awareness events against child sex tourism, but there were no reports that any criminal cases involving German offenders were prosecuted during the reporting period. The German government trained military personnel to recognize and prevent trafficking in persons prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.