NORWAY: Tier 1
Norway is a destination and, to a lesser extent, 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 and Africa—particularly Albania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Nigeria, and Romania. Increasing numbers of Syrians are 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 meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to offer victims a range of assistance through municipal centers and NGOs. Authorities devoted more resources to addressing labor exploitation, although the government continued to dedicate the bulk of resources and attention to sexual exploitation. Norway’s 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 relative to the number of victims identified; from 2007 to 2013, approximately 2,000 potential trafficking victims received assistance in Norway, yet authorities have secured only 46 convictions since 2003.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NORWAY:
Train investigators on compiling evidence additional to victims’ testimonies; train prosecutors on the application of Norway’s trafficking law; vigorously prosecute and convict sex and labor traffickers; enhance communication between police and immigration authorities and proactively screen foreigners in detention for indicators of trafficking prior to their deportation; adequately resource police departments to investigate trafficking crimes; develop and implement a national action plan; continue collaborative efforts to combat labor trafficking offenses.
The government sustained law enforcement efforts. Norway prohibits all forms of sex and labor trafficking through criminal code section 224, which prescribes a maximum penalty of six to 10 years’ imprisonment, which is sufficiently stringent and commensurate with punishments prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. New revisions to the criminal code, in effect January 2016, introduced two new paragraphs for trafficking offenses (257 and 258). The updated penal code states that the maximum sentence for human trafficking, including forced labor, has increased from five years’ to six years’ imprisonment. For aggravated trafficking offenses, the maximum sentence is 10 years’ imprisonment. Authorities initiated investigations of 43 sex trafficking cases and 18 labor trafficking cases, compared with 36 sex trafficking cases and 68 labor trafficking cases in 2014. The government prosecuted six sex trafficking suspects and five labor trafficking suspects under section 224, compared with four sex trafficking suspects and one labor trafficking suspect in 2014. Authorities obtained convictions for six sex traffickers and five labor traffickers, compared with four sex traffickers and one labor trafficker in 2014. All of the convicted traffickers under the 2015 reporting period received jail sentences ranging up to the maximum five years’ imprisonment.
Norway participated in the planning and implementation of training seminars conducted by the Council of the Baltic Sea States expert groups on trafficking in human beings and on children at risk. The government earmarked 15 million kroner ($1.7 million) annually for the establishment of specialized anti-trafficking units in Norway’s five largest police districts, under the supervision of the police directorate. The Bergen police maintained a specialized unit dedicated to combating trafficking. In 2015, Parliament decided that all 12 police districts in Norway were to have a trafficking unit—funds have been allocated for five of these police districts as of April 2016. Remaining police districts will likely receive funding in the 2017 budget. Many municipalities did not have prosecutors with specialized training in trafficking cases; as a result, prosecutors sometimes brought pimping charges in trafficking cases when the accused trafficker used forms of force, fraud, or coercion other than physical violence. In these cases, victims were not automatically provided the benefits given under the trafficking laws, and convicted offenders could receive penalties that were not dissuasive or proportionate to the crime. If tried under the pimping charges, victims may have been eligible for a residence permit if the authorities believed the person was a victim of trafficking, even if the evidence against the potential trafficker(s) was not clear. Social benefits such as financial support and welfare services may have also been provided if the believed trafficking victim was granted a residence permit. A government report found police dropped a large number of trafficking cases due in part to their lack of capacity and training to deal with trafficking cases, 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 sustained strong protection efforts through funding for victim services. In 2015, the government reported identifying and providing services for 290 trafficking victims, including 51 men, 198 women and 41 children, compared with approximately 270 victims overall in 2014. Within the total number of trafficking victims reported in 2015, 186 were sex trafficking victims, 95 were forced labor victims, three were a combination of both, and six types of exploitation were unknown. The government provided protection to trafficking victims through municipal crisis centers and government-funded NGOs. These NGOs provided foreign and domestic victims with shelter, legal aid, stipends for food, psychological care, medical assistance, fitness facilities, and Norwegian language classes. The government allocated 6 million kroner ($680,000) to an NGO specializing in caring for trafficking victims, as well as 4.5 million kroner ($510,000) to support safe houses for individuals in need, including trafficking victims. Increased funding allowed the government’s ROSA (Re-establishment, Organizing safe places to stay, Security, Assistance) project to hire extra staff to offer guidance for victims of forced labor and for an international organization to establish an emergency facility for victims of forced labor. Two apartments were available to house male victims. ROSA received 125 initial contacts from possible victims, in contrast with 132 contacts in 2014; 121 women and 4 men 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 appropriate procedures for interacting with and referring victims. 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 22 victims and temporary residence permits to 41 victims in 2015, compared with 27 grants of reflection periods and 41 temporary residence permits in 2014. 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 law enforcement no longer required their assistance; 11 victims received asylum status in 2015, the same number as in 2014. 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 maintained modest prevention efforts. Norway did not have an action plan at the close of the reporting period, as the most recent one expired in 2014. The government funded 11 broad-based projects aimed at raising awareness about trafficking in Norway. The government continued to monitor the issue of human trafficking, such as with a 2015 report, conducted by the research center Fafo on identification and assistance of child victims of trafficking. The government-funded report found child victims of exploitation received incomplete police investigations. The government did not report any specific measures to reduce the demand for commercial sex. The government provided anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel.