CZECH REPUBLIC: Tier 1
The Czech Republic is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking and a source, transit, and destination country for men and women subjected to forced labor. Women, girls, and boys from the Czech Republic, Eastern Europe, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Vietnam are subjected to sex trafficking in the Czech Republic and also transit through the Czech Republic to other European countries where they are subjected to sex trafficking. Men and women from the Czech Republic, Eastern Europe, Mongolia, the Philippines, Russia, 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 Europe where they are exploited. The majority of identified victims in the country are Czech. Romani 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 increased funding for NGOs providing victim services and enrolled more victims into its program to protect individuals assisting law enforcement. However, law enforcement efforts lagged as authorities initiated fewer prosecutions, achieved significantly fewer convictions, and sentenced only one convicted trafficker to imprisonment. Victims continued to have minimal opportunities to access court-ordered or state-funded compensation.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CZECH REPUBLIC:
Vigorously investigate and prosecute suspected offenders of both sex and labor trafficking using the anti-trafficking statute; sentence convicted traffickers commensurate with the gravity of this serious crime; increase training for prosecutors and judges on applying the anti-trafficking statute; improve victims’ ability to access court-ordered restitution; train first responders, including labor inspectors, police, and state contracting officers, on labor trafficking victim identification criteria and evolving trends in labor trafficking; enhance collaboration between the labor inspectorate and police on investigating potential labor trafficking cases; conduct large-scale public awareness-raising campaigns, particularly on labor trafficking; and disaggregate data on the type of trafficking involved in law enforcement and victim protection efforts.
The government demonstrated weakened law enforcement efforts. The government prohibits all forms of trafficking under Section 168 of its criminal code, which prescribes punishments of up to 15 years’ imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government did not disaggregate sex and labor trafficking data. In 2014, police initiated 20 investigations involving 16 suspects, compared with 18 investigations involving 25 suspects in 2013. Authorities prosecuted 16 defendants for trafficking crimes in 2014, a decline from 30 in 2013. During 2014, Czech courts convicted six traffickers, a decline from 19 convictions in 2013. Only one of the six convicted traffickers received a prison term. Forced labor prosecutions were hampered by judges’ inability to differentiate between fraud cases and trafficking involving psychological coercion. Czech authorities collaborated with foreign governments on three transnational investigations.
The organized crime branch of the Czech police maintained a specialized anti-trafficking unit that trained 220 police officers, labor inspectors, and other officials in 2014. Authorities reported the need for better collaboration between the police and labor inspectors, as well as enhanced training for inspectors on labor trafficking indicators. Observers reported prosecutors and judges pursued trafficking cases unevenly due to lack of familiarity with the law or preference to prosecute traffickers for non-trafficking crimes. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses.
The government strengthened victim protection efforts. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs provided 5,313,000 koruna ($208,000) in 2014 to NGOs providing care for trafficking victims, a 10 percent increase from 2013. Government-funded NGOs provided services to approximately 99 victims in 2014, at least 60 of whom were newly identified in 2014, compared with at least 37 newly identified victims in 2013. Authorities provided 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. In 2014, 43 victims entered the program, an increase from 23 in 2013. As in 2013, the MOI made available 2 million koruna ($78,500) to support NGOs assisting victims enrolled in the witness support program as well as NGOs’ trafficking prevention projects. Identified child victims received care outside of the MOI’s program through publicly funded NGOs that provided shelter, food, clothing, and medical and psychological counseling.
Police reported identifying 67 victims in 2014, compared with 57 in 2013. Foreign victims who cooperated with investigators received temporary residence and work visas for the duration of the relevant legal proceedings. Upon conclusion of the court proceedings, victims could apply for permanent residency; one victim received permanent residency in 2014, compared with two in 2013. Victims were eligible to seek court-ordered compensation from their traffickers, though such restitution was rare, as victims often feared retribution from their traffickers during criminal cases and could not afford attorney fees for a civil suit. The government does not maintain a compensation fund for victims subjected to trafficking within the country. There were no reports the government penalized identified victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking.
The government maintained prevention efforts. 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 patterns and programs, which it released publicly. The government continued to fund an NGO-run hotline to identify victims of trafficking and domestic violence; in 2014, the hotline received approximately 600 phone calls. The government provided trafficking-specific training for approximately 45 consular officers. The government provided anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel. The government demonstrated efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, including awareness-raising efforts. The Czech Republic became a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol in December 2014.