The Czech Republic is a source, transit, and destination country for women and girls 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 transit through the Czech Republic en route to Western European countries where they are subjected to forced prostitution. Men and women from the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Moldova, the Philippines, Romania, Ukraine, and Vietnam are subjected to forced labor in the construction, agricultural, forestry, manufacturing, and service sectors in the Czech Republic and also transit through the Czech Republic to other countries in the European Union, including Austria, Cyprus, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom (UK). Roma women from the Czech Republic are subjected to forced prostitution and forced labor internally and in destination countries, including the UK.
The Government of the Czech Republic fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government enrolled substantially more victims into its program to protect individuals assisting law enforcement, due in part to a new law that provided legal representation to participating victims. Authorities convicted more traffickers during the reporting period, and appellate courts continued to issue final decisions in forced labor cases. The government reestablished funding for NGOs to run awareness campaigns in 2013 after eliminating such funding in 2012, but the government did not provide targeted outreach to vulnerable groups, such as Roma communities.
Recommendations for Czech Republic:
Continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute both sex and labor trafficking offenders using the Czech anti-trafficking statute; ensure convicted traffickers receive sentences commensurate with the gravity of this serious crime; increase training opportunities for prosecutors and judges on anti-trafficking legislation; ensure trafficking victims are thoroughly explained their rights at the outset of identification and encouraged to cooperate with law enforcement; integrate representatives from the Roma community into national coordination processes; fund prevention campaigns specifically targeting vulnerable groups, including Roma communities; disaggregate data on the type of trafficking involved in law enforcement and victim protection efforts; continue to strengthen bilateral coordination on trafficking with source countries, including neighboring EU countries; conduct large-scale public awareness-raising campaigns, particularly on labor trafficking; 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; and accede to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.
The Government of the Czech Republic demonstrated strengthened anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The government prohibits all forms of trafficking 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 Czech government did not disaggregate sex and labor trafficking data. In 2013, the police conducted 18 investigations under Section 168, compared with 24 investigations in 2012. Czech authorities prosecuted 30 alleged traffickers under Section 168 in 2013, compared to 28 in 2012. During 2013, Czech courts convicted 16 defendants under Section 168, an increase from five convictions in 2012. The government continued to prosecute some older trafficking cases under Section 232a of the criminal code, which prohibited human trafficking prior to enactment of Section 168. Three defendants were convicted under Section 232a in 2013, compared with six in 2012. Sixteen of the 19 defendants convicted in 2013 received prison terms ranging between one to five years’ and five to 15 years’ imprisonment; three received suspended sentences. Forced labor prosecutions were hampered by judges’ inability to differentiate between fraud cases and trafficking involving psychological coercion. Courts continued to affirm post-appeal convictions on labor trafficking cases in 2013, consistent with the country’s first post-appeal labor trafficking decisions in 2012: an appellate court affirmed the convictions of four defendants for labor trafficking, sentencing the perpetrators to five to nine years’ imprisonment, and another appellate court affirmed the labor trafficking convictions of two defendants, who received suspended sentences.
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 with foreign governments on trafficking investigations, including France and the UK. 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 strengthened victim protection efforts, enrolling more victims in its witness protection program. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MLSA) provided the equivalent of approximately $245,900 in 2013 to NGOs providing care for trafficking victims, about the same amount as 2012. Government-funded NGOs provided shelter and care to approximately 62 victims in 2013, of whom at least 37 were newly identified during the year, compared to at least 22 newly identified victims in 2012. Authorities provided both foreign and Czech victims with a 60-day reflection period, in which victims received 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 adult victims willing to cooperate with law enforcement. During 2013, the government expanded the services available through this program to include legal representation, which contributed to an increase in the number of victims who chose to enroll in the program; in 2013, 23 victims entered the program, compared to one in 2012 and 10 in 2011. As in 2012, the MOI allocated the equivalent of approximately $101,500 to NGOs for victim assistance and trafficking prevention projects. Identified child victims were provided care outside of the MOI’s program through publicly funded NGOs that provided shelter, food, clothing, and medical and psychological counseling. The police employed child psychologists to assist in cases involving children.
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. Police reported identifying 57 victims in 2013, compared to 52 in 2012. 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; two victims received permanent residency in 2013, compared to zero in 2012. Victims were eligible to seek compensation from their traffickers, though there were no reports of victims receiving such compensation through Czech courts in 2013. There were no reports that the government penalized identified victims for unlawful acts they may have committed as a direct result of being trafficked.
The Czech government demonstrated improved prevention efforts by providing funding to NGOs for prevention activities. The government, however, did not provide targeted outreach to vulnerable groups, such as Roma communities. The government provided trafficking-specific training for approximately 45 consular officers. The MLSA trained approximately 50 labor inspectors on identifying trafficking victims. The MLSA inspected 567 labor recruitment agencies, though the MLSA did not report how many violations were discovered. The interior minister chaired an inter-ministerial body that coordinated national efforts and worked to implement the 2012-2015 national action plan. 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 2013, the hotline received calls from 482 separate individuals. The government demonstrated efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts during the year. The Czech Republic is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.