NORWAY: Tier 1
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, nursing, car washing, and construction. 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 from Eastern Europe—particularly Albania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Romania—and Africa—particularly Nigeria. There are increasing numbers of Syrians subjected to trafficking in Norway. Foreign au pairs, including those from the Philippines, are vulnerable to trafficking in Norway. Some children who had disappeared or had been recruited from asylum centers were subsequently subjected to trafficking by organized trafficking groups.
The Government of Norway fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to offer victims a range of assistance through specialized NGOs and municipal centers. Authorities’ recognition of labor exploitation increased, although the government continued to dedicate the bulk of resources and attention to sexual exploitation. The national action plan against trafficking expired in 2014 and was not replaced by the close of the reporting period. The level of law enforcement efforts remained low given the number of victims identified; from 2007 to 2013, approximately 2,000 potential trafficking victims received assistance in Norway, yet authorities have secured only 35 convictions since 2003.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NORWAY:
Vigorously prosecute and convict both sex and labor traffickers; proactively screen foreigners in detention for indicators of trafficking prior to their deportation; provide police departments with adequate resources to investigate trafficking crimes; provide training to prosecutors on the application of Norway’s trafficking law; provide training to investigators on compiling evidence additional to victims’ testimonies; consistently offer a reflection period to identified victims, during which victims can receive services and recover from trauma; enhance communication between police and immigration authorities to ensure victims receive residence benefits when warranted; develop and implement a national action plan with NGOs; monitor and prosecute labor recruitment offenses; and fund a national or targeted anti-trafficking awareness campaign.
The government demonstrated some progress in law enforcement efforts. Norway prohibits all forms of both sex and labor trafficking 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. Authorities initiated investigations of 36 sex trafficking cases and 68 labor trafficking cases, compared with 30 sex trafficking cases and 39 labor trafficking cases in 2013. The government prosecuted four sex trafficking suspects and one labor trafficking suspect under Section 224, compared with six sex trafficking suspects and three labor trafficking suspects in 2013. Authorities obtained convictions for four sex traffickers and one labor trafficker, compared with three sex traffickers and two labor traffickers in 2013. All of the convicted traffickers received jail sentences ranging up to five years’ imprisonment.
The police directorate hosted a nationwide training on labor trafficking for 160 police and prosecutors in October 2014. The police college also hosted one full-day training for cadets. The Bergen police maintained a specialized unit dedicated to combating trafficking; Bergen has secured over 40 percent of the country’s trafficking convictions since trafficking was criminalized in 2003. However, many police districts did not have any resources dedicated to investigating trafficking while others were limited; for instance, Oslo’s police department had only one officer dedicated to trafficking. Additionally, many municipalities did not have prosecutors with specialized training who could be assigned to incoming trafficking cases. One consequence was prosecutors sometimes applied pimping charges to trafficking cases when the suspected trafficker used forms of coercion more subtle than violence. In these cases, victims in pimping cases were not eligible for the benefits provided under the trafficking laws, and suspected traffickers could receive penalties that were not dissuasive or proportionate to the crime. A government report found a large number of trafficking cases were dropped, due in part to lack of competence of the police, as well as investigators relying solely on victims’ testimony rather than gathering additional evidence. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses.
The government demonstrated strong protection efforts through sustained funding for victim services. In 2014, the government reported identifying and providing services for approximately 270 trafficking victims, approximately 20 percent of whom were men and 20 percent children, compared with approximately 350 victims overall in 2013. The government provided protection to trafficking victims through municipal crisis centers and government-funded NGOs. These NGOs offered both foreign and domestic victims shelter; legal aid; stipends for food; psychological care; medical assistance; fitness facilities; and Norwegian language classes. The government allocated 2.5 million kroner ($314,000) to an NGO specializing in caring for trafficking victims, as well as 4.5 million kroner ($565,000) to support safe houses for individuals in need, including trafficking victims. Two apartments were available to male victims as needed. One of the main government-funded institutions for trafficking victim care received 139 initial contacts from victims, in contrast with 132 contacts in 2013. Of these 139 victims, 41 women and one man accepted shelter services. Another publicly supported NGO assisted sex trafficking victims who had been granted a reflection period with vocational programs and sponsored internships. Child Welfare Services provided specialized care to child victims, including accommodation in a child protection institution or a foster home. The government supplied the police with “action cards” that detailed the appropriate procedures for interacting with and referring victims when encountering them. GRETA reported Norwegian border officials did not adequately identify potential victims. Experts observed the police were under pressure to deport individuals without legal status and often pursued deportation without screening for indicators of trafficking, particularly among individuals in prostitution.
Authorities granted a six-month reflection period to 27 victims and temporary residence permits to 41 victims in 2014, compared with 30 reflection periods and 38 temporary residence permits in 2013. Observers expressed concern over the lack of communication between the police and immigration authorities, resulting in the deportation of victims who may have merited temporary residency. Victims could receive a longer-term residence permit if they made a formal complaint to the police and the authorities decided they needed the victims’ assistance for the investigation and prosecution. Victims facing retribution or hardship in their countries of origin could apply for asylum after their assistance to law enforcement was no longer needed; 11 victims received asylum status in 2014, compared with 19 in 2013. There were isolated incidents of potential victims being inappropriately detained or fined for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking.
The government demonstrated weakened prevention efforts. Norway did not have an action plan at the close of the reporting period, as the previous one had expired in 2014 and had not yet been replaced. There were no cases of authorities punishing labor recruiters involved in the recruitment of workers through knowingly fraudulent offers of employment. The government continued to direct the bulk of its attention and resources to combating sexual exploitation and gave inadequate attention and resources to combating labor trafficking. The government did not fund any broad-based awareness campaigns in Norway. The government did not report any specific measures to reduce the demand for commercial sex. The government provided anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel.