Norway is a destination and, to a lesser extent, a transit and source country for women and girls subjected to sex trafficking and for men and women subjected to forced labor in domestic service, in nursing, and the construction sector. Children are subjected to domestic servitude, forced begging, and forced criminal activity, such as shoplifting and drug sales. Trafficking victims identified in Norway primarily originate in Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Romania), Africa (Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria), Brazil, and the Philippines. Female victims from African countries are often exploited by males who have legal residency in Norway; these perpetrators marry women in Africa, bring them to Norway, and coerce them into prostitution. Traffickers from Eastern Europe are typically members of small family mafias; offenders seduce young women in their home countries and convince them to come to Norway, where they are forced into prostitution. Some foreign au pairs, including those from the Philippines, are vulnerable to trafficking in Norway.
The Government of Norway fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The Norwegian government has adopted a victim-centered approach, offering generous and diverse victim services through specialized NGOs and local governments. In 2013, authorities investigated more trafficking cases, including labor trafficking cases, although convictions for trafficking offenses declined. Nevertheless, Norwegian law enforcement efforts were far lower than the reported number of initial victim contacts in 2013, and the government did not publish a self-critical evaluation of domestic efforts in 2013.
Recommendations for Norway:
Vigorously prosecute and convict both sex and labor trafficking offenders; investigate why few trafficking investigations and suspected trafficking victim identifications result in prosecutions; ensure the Oslo police department is adequately resourced to investigate trafficking crimes; continue to provide training to prosecutors on the application of Norway’s trafficking law; ensure that child victims of trafficking receive specialized care; ensure that male trafficking victims receive adequate services and that all governmental anti-trafficking efforts are structured to address male as well as female victims of trafficking; ensure that front-line responders understand and offer a reflection period to identified victims, during which victims can receive services and recover from their trauma; consider options for the provision of longer-term victim assistance in non-emergency shelters; publish a self-evaluative report on the government’s anti-trafficking efforts; monitor and prosecute labor recruitment offenses; and fund a national or targeted anti-trafficking awareness campaign.
The Norwegian government demonstrated some progress in law enforcement efforts through increased investigations of labor trafficking, though law enforcement efforts as a whole remained far below the rate of reported victim identification. Norway prohibits all forms of both sex and labor trafficking in persons through Criminal Code Section 224, which prescribes a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment, which is sufficiently stringent and commensurate with punishments prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. Norwegian authorities initiated 30 sex trafficking investigations and 39 labor trafficking investigations in 2013, compared with 26 sex trafficking and 22 labor trafficking investigations initiated in 2012. The government prosecuted six sex trafficking suspects and three labor trafficking suspects in 2013, compared with two sex trafficking suspects and six labor trafficking suspects in 2012. Authorities convicted three sex trafficking offenders and two labor trafficking offenders in 2013, compared with three sex trafficking offenders and four labor trafficking offenders convicted in 2012. All of the convicted traffickers received jail sentences, including one who received three years’ imprisonment.
Three Norwegian cities maintained specialized anti-trafficking units in their police forces. In 2012, observers reported that the Oslo police department reassigned officers with specialized anti-trafficking training to the organized crime unit, resulting in fewer investigations of trafficking cases in the capital city; in 2013, the Oslo police filed no new trafficking cases. Observers reported that police districts have too few resources devoted to investigating human trafficking. Experts reported that prosecutors sometimes applied pimping charges to trafficking cases when the suspected trafficker used forms of coercion that were more subtle than violence; in these cases, victims in pimping cases were not eligible for the benefits provided under the trafficking laws. The government reportedly did not provide adequate training for prosecutors on applying the trafficking statute. The government continued to provide new police officers with training on identifying and assisting trafficking victims, as well as periodic in-service training to all police officers on the referral processes. The government also supplied the police with “action cards” that detail the appropriate procedures for interacting with and referring victims when encountering them. The government organized a two-day training seminar for nearly 300 participants from different authorities and NGOs on trafficking victim identification and referral. The Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) reported deficient identification of potential victims by Norwegian border officials. Law enforcement authorities collaborated with other governments on trafficking investigations. The government did not report the investigation or prosecution of any public officials for trafficking-related complicity.
The Government of Norway demonstrated strong protection efforts through sustained funding for victim services. The Norwegian government provided protection to trafficking victims through municipal crisis centers and government-funded NGOs. These NGOs offered both foreign and domestic victims a range of assistance, including shelter, legal aid, stipends for food, psychological care, medical assistance, fitness facilities, and Norwegian language classes. An NGO specializing in caring for trafficking victims who have received a reflection period provided vocational programs, education, and sponsored internships. Although the specialized NGOs primarily offered services to women, one NGO made two apartments available to male victims as needed. By law, Norwegian municipalities were obligated to offer trafficking victims shelter in crisis centers, regardless of their immigration status. One of the main government-funded institutions for trafficking victim care received 132 initial contacts from trafficking victims in 2013, in contrast to 146 contacts in 2012. Of these 132 initial contacts, 52 women or girl trafficking victims ultimately were housed by the victim care institution. The primary government-funded project received the equivalent of approximately $418,400 in funding for trafficking victim care, compared to the equivalent of approximately $401,700 in 2012; this sum does not include most of the aid given to victims by municipalities—including free medical care—nor the financial allocations to other NGO anti-trafficking projects. In 2013, the Norwegian government reported identifying and providing services for approximately 350 trafficking victims, including approximately 227 women, 35 men, and 88 children, an increase from 274 trafficking victims assisted in 2012. NGOs reported fairly extensive coordination efforts with the government on victim assistance. The government’s Child Welfare Services provided specialized care to child victims, including accommodation in a child protection institution or a foster home. The Child Welfare Act continued to enable authorities to place children who are presumed victims of trafficking in an institution without their consent for a period of up to six months.
The Norwegian government permitted trafficking victims to stay in Norway without condition during a six-month reflection period, a time for them to receive assistance while they consider whether to assist law enforcement with a trafficking investigation and prosecution; authorities granted a reflection period to 30 victims in 2013, compared with 29 in 2012. In 2013, the government started issuing temporary residence permits to victims for use during the reflection period; this status provides victims with a widely-accepted identification card permitting them to work in Norway and access public services like health care. The government also offered a permanent residency permit for victims facing retribution or hardship in their countries of origin, on the condition that they give statements to the police outside of court. Any victim of trafficking—regardless of potential retribution or hardship at home—who made a formal complaint to the police, could remain in Norway for the duration of court proceedings; victims who testified in court were entitled to permanent residency. In 2013, Norwegian authorities issued 38 temporary residence permits to trafficking victims and granted a temporary asylum status to 19 trafficking victims. Several trafficking victims received restitution 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 Norwegian government demonstrated weak prevention efforts within the country. The government has not published a self-evaluative report on its anti-trafficking measures since 2012. The government did not fund any broad-based domestic trafficking awareness campaigns targeting labor or sex trafficking. The Ministry of Justice did not report any cases of authorities punishing labor recruiters involved in the recruitment of workers through knowingly fraudulent offers of employment. The government undertook steps to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. The Norwegian national criminal investigation service monitored the travel of Norwegian nationals to known child sex tourism destinations.