MACAU: Tier 2
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 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, Russia, and Tanzania. Many trafficking victims fall prey to false advertisements for jobs, including in casinos in Macau, but upon arrival are forced or coerced into prostitution. Victims are sometimes confined in massage parlors and illegal brothels, where they are closely monitored, threatened with violence, forced to work long hours, and have their identity documents confiscated. 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. Authorities convicted six traffickers and continued to build judicial and prosecutorial capacity by training officials. Authorities, however, did not identify any labor trafficking victims and identified only five sex trafficking victims, compared with 30 in 2013.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MACAU:
Increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict sex and labor traffickers; continue to improve and consistently implement proactive victim identification methods, especially 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 so that visitors in Macau understand soliciting or engaging in prostitution with children is a crime; and conduct a survey of the migrant labor population in Macau in order to identify its vulnerability to trafficking.
Authorities sustained anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Macau’s anti-trafficking law, Law Number 6/2008, housed within the Penal Code, prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons and prescribes penalties of three to 15 years’ imprisonment, punishments which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Law enforcement and judicial capacity constraints continued to remain as major challenges in addressing trafficking crimes.
Authorities conducted investigations of five sex trafficking cases, a decrease from 34 investigations in 2013. Prosecutors initiated three sex trafficking prosecutions, the same as in 2013, involving an unknown number of defendants. One case involving one defendant was tried under Macau’s anti-trafficking law but was subsequently dismissed; three other cases—including one from a previous year—remained pending in court. Authorities convicted six traffickers from prosecutions initiated in previous years, an increase from zero in 2013. The traffickers received sentences ranging from 1.5 to five years’ imprisonment. Prosecutors continued to use the “procuring of prostitution” provision for many cases with elements of trafficking. This crime has simpler evidentiary standards but carries lighter penalties than the trafficking law. Authorities reported pursuing three investigations regarding fraudulent employment offers, but the trafficking nexus was not made clear. For the 10th consecutive year, authorities did not report any prosecutions or convictions for labor trafficking.
In addition to providing standard trafficking awareness training to all judiciary police and public security police officers, authorities organized and attended numerous anti-trafficking trainings during the year. Macau’s anti-trafficking committee continued to host seminars on forced labor and victim identification for inspectors and law enforcement personnel. In October 2014, judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and other legal experts received training on human trafficking at the Legal and Judiciary Training Center. Authorities reported cooperating with mainland Chinese and Hong Kong authorities on anti-trafficking efforts through intelligence exchanges and joint investigations. Authorities did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees for complicity in human trafficking offenses.
Authorities demonstrated decreased efforts to protect trafficking victims. Authorities identified five victims of forced prostitution, a sharp decline from 38 in 2013, in which 24 were children victims. Four victims were from mainland China and one was from Tanzania—the first time authorities identified a victim in Macau from outside of Eurasia. Authorities failed to identify victims of forced labor in 2014. The Social Welfare Bureau (SWB) reported assisting and offering shelter to all identified victims in cooperation with local NGOs. Authorities designated 21 beds for female trafficking victims at a shelter managed by the SWB. Macau authorities decreased funding to 1.8 million pataca ($230,000) from 3 million pataca ($375,000), to fund and support trafficking victim protection measures. Authorities continued inspections for labor trafficking and reported identifying 108 potential victims to fill out questionnaires; this did not lead to formal investigations, protections, or assistance for victims. The SWB continued to operate a shelter for male victims, though authorities did not report any male victims during the reporting period. Authorities had a formal victim identification process, operational referral process, and standardized screening questionnaire that guided law enforcement, immigration, and social services personnel. Authorities sustained an existing partnership with local NGOs to provide interpreters to assist in interviewing foreign trafficking victims and to operate a 24-hour general 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 assistance, but reported difficulty persuading victims to cooperate. Authorities had a policy of offering foreign crime victims legal alternatives to removal to countries in which they would face retribution or hardship; however, no trafficking victims were known to have sought this immigration relief. The legal system allows for civil remedies, but no victim was known to have pursued this option in 2014.
Authorities sustained efforts to prevent forced labor and sex trafficking. The Labor Affairs Bureau (LAB) and law enforcement agencies continued to disseminate thousands of leaflets, pamphlets, video clips, and posters to raise awareness of labor trafficking. LAB continued a trafficking awareness education project in high schools, holding 33 workshops in 2014. Macau continued to implement a revised policy that foreign workers who are fired or quit a job are exempt from waiting six months before obtaining a new job; this waiting period previously made migrants vulnerable to forced labor. The authorities received 1,997 labor-related complaints but reported no potential trafficking cases among them. Authorities did not report how many people benefited from this amended provision. 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 prostitution in casinos, night clubs, saunas, and other areas known for such activities. Authorities did not report any investigations or prosecutions for child sex tourism.