The Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) of the People’s Republic of China is primarily a destination and, to a much lesser extent, a source territory for women and children subjected to sex trafficking and possibly forced labor. Victims originate primarily from mainland China, with many from inland Chinese provinces who travel to the border province of Guangdong in search of better employment. Sex trafficking victims in Macau also include women from Mongolia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Russia. Many trafficking victims fall prey to false advertisements for jobs in casinos and other legitimate employment in Macau, but upon arrival are forced into prostitution. Foreign and mainland Chinese women are sometimes passed to local organized crime groups, held captive, and forced into sexual servitude. Victims are sometimes confined in massage parlors and illegal brothels, where they are closely monitored, forced to work long hours, have their identity documents confiscated, and are threatened with violence. Chinese, Russian, and Thai criminal syndicates are believed to be involved in recruiting women for Macau’s commercial sex industry. At least one suspected case of child prostitution in a U.S.-owned casino in Macau has been reported. During 2012, Macau eliminated a requirement that foreign workers who are fired or quit a job wait six months before obtaining a new position; this waiting period previously made migrants vulnerable to forced labor.
MSAR does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Macau authorities demonstrated tangible results during this reporting period. Macau authorities made progress by prosecuting two sex trafficking cases, convicting nine traffickers, and identifying and assisting 25 victims of sex trafficking. However, no labor trafficking cases were initiated or prosecuted, nor were labor trafficking victims identified during this reporting year.
Recommendations for Macau: Continue to increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders with a focus on perpetrators of forced labor; continue to implement proactive victim identification methods, particularly among vulnerable populations such as migrant workers; inspect for evidence of forced labor and appropriately prosecute cases as labor trafficking offenses; and continue to educate law enforcement, other government officials, and the public on forced labor, as well as sex trafficking.
Macau authorities demonstrated an increase in anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Macau’s anti-trafficking law, Law Number 6/2008, prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons and prescribes penalties of three to 15 years’ imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent punishments and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. During the reporting period, Macau authorities conducted 15 sex trafficking investigations, compared to 13 investigations reported during the previous year. Two cases of sex trafficking were prosecuted during this year. In a case involving six women who were forced into prostitution, nine offenders were convicted and received sentences ranging from four to 13 years. Another sex trafficking trial, involving two mainland Chinese defendants, remained ongoing at the end of the reporting period. Macau authorities did not report any labor trafficking investigations, prosecutions, or convictions. Labor trafficking cases involving 18 individuals were viewed by authorities as worker disputes and prosecuted under worker protection laws. Authorities reported increasing judicial capacity with the new hiring of five prosecutors in 2012 and the training of an additional twelve prosecutors and judges, who are expected to assume their roles in mid-2013.
In addition to the standard trafficking awareness training that all judiciary police and public security police officers receive, Macau authorities organized and attended numerous anti-trafficking trainings throughout the year. The anti-trafficking committee hosted at least five seminars for more than 500 law enforcement officers to discuss strategies for raising awareness and combating human trafficking. Macau’s Social Welfare Bureau (SWB) hosted a seminar for NGOs and department heads to exchange best practices on victim protection with Hong Kong counterparts in April. Macau authorities cooperated with mainland Chinese and Hong Kong authorities in arresting three Macau residents and rescuing six victims. Despite the authorities’ increased cooperation with mainland China and Hong Kong, the government of another trafficking source country reported a lack of cooperation from Macau authorities. Macau authorities did not report any investigations or prosecutions of government employees for alleged complicity in trafficking-related offenses during the reporting period.
Macau authorities demonstrated efforts to protect trafficking victims during the reporting period. Authorities identified 25 victims of forced prostitution in 2012, compared with 13 in 2011, but identified no victims of forced labor in 2012. All of the victims identified in 2012 were from mainland China. The SWB reported assisting and offering shelter to all identified victims in cooperation with local NGOs. Macau officials reported identifying 18 Chinese workers who were disputing their work conditions but repatriated them to China without offering them victim services. In addition, 17 women connected with the case involving the nine convicted offenders were not protected as victims of sex trafficking because the court ruled that their voluntary association with the defendants meant they were not trafficking victims. Macau authorities designated 21 beds for female trafficking victims of any nationality at a shelter managed by SWB and allocated the equivalent of approximately $250,400 to fund and support victim protection measures. In 2012, SWB established a shelter for male victims, though no male victims were assisted during the reporting period. Macau authorities updated the standardized screening questionnaire that guides law enforcement, immigration, and social services personnel in identifying trafficking victims to add elements to screen for forced labor victims. They sustained an existing partnership with a local NGO in order to identify interpreters to assist in interviewing foreign trafficking victims and funded an NGO to operate a 24-hour hotline that could be used by trafficking victims. Authorities encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes by providing temporary shelter and appropriate assistance. Despite a policy offering general foreign crime victims legal alternatives to removal to countries in which they would face retribution or hardship, no trafficking victims received such immigration relief after legal proceedings; trafficking victims were repatriated without an option to stay.
Macau authorities demonstrated modest efforts to prevent forced labor and commercial sex during the reporting period. In 2012, labor and human resources agencies joined the anti-trafficking committee to focus Macau’s efforts more on labor trafficking. The Labor Affairs Bureau produced and disseminated 13,000 leaflets on combating human trafficking, and law enforcement agencies prepared 3,000 pamphlets, in four different languages, to raise awareness of labor trafficking. The Labor Affairs Bureau continued its education project in high schools and hosted educational activities to raise public awareness. In an attempt to reduce demand for commercial sex acts, law enforcement authorities arrested 423 distributors of prostitution-related leaflets and seized more than 200,000 leaflets. This operation, however, did not appear to adequately address the single suspected case of child prostitution in a U.S.-owned casino, nor did it reduce demand for sexual exploitation in night clubs, saunas, and other “black spots.” Authorities did not report any investigations or prosecutions of child sex tourism.