The Macau Special Administrative Region 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 forced labor. Sex trafficking victims originate primarily from mainland China; many are from inland Chinese provinces and travel to the border province of Guangdong in search of better employment. Some are from Mongolia, Vietnam, Ukraine, 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. Children are reportedly subjected to sex trafficking on the premises of casinos in Macau.
Macau authorities do not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, they are making significant efforts to do so. Macau authorities investigated 34 sex trafficking cases, initiated prosecutions involving three alleged traffickers, and identified and assisted 38 victims of sex trafficking during the reporting period. While no labor trafficking cases were initiated or prosecuted, and no labor trafficking victims were identified during the reporting year, Macau authorities established a working group to improve anti-labor trafficking efforts. No alleged sex traffickers were convicted under Macau’s anti-trafficking law, which is a decrease from nine in the previous reporting period.
Recommendations for Macau:
Increase efforts to investigate and prosecute sex trafficking offenses and convict and punish sex trafficking offenders; increase efforts to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of forced labor; continue to implement proactive victim identification methods, particularly among vulnerable populations such as migrant workers and children in prostitution in casinos; continue to educate law enforcement and other officials and the public on forced labor and sex trafficking; conduct sex trafficking awareness campaigns for visitors to Macau to increase awareness that soliciting or engaging in prostitution with children minors is a crime; and conduct a survey to understand the vulnerabilities of the migrant labor population in Macau to trafficking.
Macau authorities sustained moderate 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. Law enforcement and judicial capacity constraints remain major challenges and constraints in addressing trafficking crimes.
In 2013, the authorities conducted 34 sex trafficking investigations, compared to 15 investigations in 2012. Authorities also reported investigating four cases of suspected fraudulent recruitment by employers, but these cases were closed due to a lack of evidence. Three cases of sex trafficking resulted in prosecutions, compared to two cases in 2012. No trafficking offenders were convicted as compared to nine convictions reported in the previous year. Macau authorities have not reported any labor trafficking investigations, prosecutions, or convictions for nine consecutive years. Authorities reported increasing judicial capacity with the hiring of six additional prosecutors, but none were assigned specifically to handle anti-trafficking cases.
In addition to 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. In July, Macau’s anti-trafficking committee (“Human Trafficking Deterrent Measures Concern Committee”) organized a seminar on forced labor and victim identification for 303 labor inspectors and law enforcement personnel. In October, the anti-trafficking committee, in conjunction with IOM, held a seminar to share best practices on victim identification and combat labor trafficking for 187 law enforcement officials. Macau authorities reported cooperating with mainland Chinese and Hong Kong authorities on anti-trafficking efforts. The authorities did not report any investigations or prosecutions of government employees for alleged complicity in trafficking-related offenses.
Macau authorities demonstrated increased efforts to protect trafficking victims. In 2013, authorities identified 38 victims of forced prostitution, 36 from mainland China and two from Ukraine, and 24 of whom were between the ages of 14 and 17, compared with 25 victims in 2012. The authorities identified no victims of forced labor. Macau’s Social Welfare Bureau (SWB) reported assisting and offering shelter to all identified victims in cooperation with local NGOs. Macau authorities designated 21 beds for female trafficking victims of any nationality at a shelter managed by SWB and allocated the equivalent of approximately $375,480 to fund and support trafficking victim protection measures, an increase from $250,000 in the previous year. SWB continued to operate a shelter for male victims, though the authorities did not assist any male victims during the reporting period. Macau authorities have a formal victim identification process, operational referral process, and standardized screening questionnaire that guide law enforcement, immigration, and social services personnel. Authorities sustained an existing partnership with a local NGO to identify interpreters to assist in interviewing foreign trafficking victims. Authorities encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes by providing temporary shelter and assistance. Authorities had a policy offering foreign crime victims legal alternatives, such as immigration relief, to removal to countries in which they would face retribution or hardship; however, no trafficking victims were known to have benefited from such immigration relief.
Macau authorities sustained efforts to prevent forced labor and commercial sex. Authorities funded an NGO to operate a 24-hour hotline that could be used by trafficking victims. The Labor Affairs Bureau (LAB) and law enforcement agencies continued to disseminate thousands of leaflets and pamphlets to raise awareness of labor trafficking. Macau’s anti-trafficking committee established a “TIP and Labor Exploitation Working Group” to improve its anti-labor trafficking efforts. In March, LAB, Public Security Police, and an NGO organized a seminar for 70 Filipino resident workers to raise awareness of Macau’s legal protections for migrant workers. LAB organized a migrants’ rights seminar for 200 employment agency workers. Macau eliminated a requirement that foreign workers who are fired or quit a job wait six months before obtaining a new job; this waiting period previously made migrants vulnerable to forced labor. In an attempt to reduce demand for commercial sex acts, law enforcement authorities continued to combat the distribution of prostitution-related advertisements and increased the number of inspections of illegal brothels. These efforts, however, did not appear to significantly reduce demand for sexual exploitation in casinos, night clubs, saunas, and other areas known for sexual exploitation. Authorities did not report any investigations or prosecutions of child sex tourism.