Denmark is primarily a destination and transit country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking from Nigeria, Cameroon, Romania, Estonia, Thailand, and other countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. Some migrants working in agriculture, domestic service, restaurants, hotels, and factories are subjected to labor trafficking under debt bondage, withheld wages, abuse, and threats of deportation. In one recent case, two Romanians were held against their will and compelled to work as janitors for three years and to live in squalid conditions. Unaccompanied migrant children are vulnerable to human trafficking, although in practice, there are very few cases of child trafficking. Copenhagen’s relatively small red-light district represents only a portion of the country’s larger commercial sex trade, which includes brothels, bars, strip clubs, and underground venues.
The Government of Denmark fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government maintained its law enforcement efforts and increased coordination between law enforcement and social workers to proactively identify some victims of trafficking through the use of crisis centers. Denmark’s 72-hour limitation for charging an individual with a crime, including violations of immigration law, served as a structural impediment to meaningful victim identification in detention settings, which may have led to the punishment of some victims for acts committed as a direct result of their trafficking. Once victims were identified, the government provided them with protection, prevented them from being punished for acts committed as a result of trafficking, and encouraged their participation in investigations. Although there is not a trafficking-specific legal alternative to removal from Denmark, victims of trafficking have the option of applying for asylum in Denmark.
Recommendations for Denmark: Continue coordination with trained social workers to improve and institutionalize victim-sensitive, proactive identification procedures, including special concern for child victims, and to ensure that potential victims are not re-victimized, treated as offenders, or detained; continue law enforcement efforts to proactively identify and expeditiously transfer potential trafficking victims from police or immigration custody to crisis centers; assess current use of legal alternatives to removal, consider ways to increase use of these alternatives, or create alternatives specific to trafficking victims; improve procedures to encourage victims’ meaningful participation in criminal proceedings against their traffickers; carry out an evaluation per the government’s national action plan to determine why so few trafficking victims agree to “prepared return,” and assess whether available services are meeting victims’ needs; continue to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders, and convict and sentence sex and labor trafficking offenders under Section 262(a) of the Danish criminal code; further enhance continued law enforcement efforts against labor trafficking; and ensure trafficking offenders serve sentences commensurate with the serious nature of the offense.
The Government of Denmark maintained its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts in 2012. Denmark prohibits sex trafficking and forced labor through Section 262(a) of its criminal code, which prescribes punishments of up to ten years’ imprisonment; these penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Authorities initiated four new investigations against nine trafficking suspects in 2012, compared with 14 suspects investigated in 2011. Trafficking prosecutions against 11 defendants resulted in three convictions, a decrease compared with 13 defendants prosecuted and nine convicted in 2011. Some offenders investigated and prosecuted under the anti-trafficking statute were convicted instead under Section 228 for procuring prostitution, which imposes more lenient maximum penalties of up to four years’ imprisonment. One convicted offender was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment; the case is under appeal. Two offenders were sentenced to two years’ and six months’ imprisonment and were expelled from Denmark.
Media reports noted the first arrests for forced labor in a case involving a Romanian couple who reportedly were held against their will doing janitorial work for three years, denied wages, and made to live in a closet on the alleged traffickers’ balcony. A study commissioned by the Government of Denmark noted courts have yet to prosecute any labor trafficking cases despite reports of migrants held in debt bondage, under threat of losing residence permits, and denied wages in the agriculture and cleaning industries. Over the last year, the Danish government began to focus on identifying victims of labor trafficking; the study noted that the increasing number of labor trafficking cases would necessitate intensified efforts to prevent and combat this form of trafficking. Law enforcement and other officials experienced continued difficulties discerning forced labor from lesser labor violations but are taking proactive steps to enhance victim identification and law enforcement efforts in this area. The government trained tax inspectors and employees of trade unions on labor trafficking identification, which resulted in increased identification of forced labor cases during the reporting period. The government also trained social workers, police officers, judges, prosecutors, immigration officers, health professionals, and NGOs on human trafficking.
The government did not provide disaggregated data to demonstrate efforts against both sex and labor trafficking. The Government of Denmark did not report any investigations or prosecutions of public officials for alleged complicity in trafficking-related offenses during the reporting period.
The government increased coordination between law enforcement and social workers in an effort to improve victim identification during the reporting period. In 2012, the Danish Immigration Service identified 45 trafficking victims without legal status, and social workers in the government’s center against human trafficking identified 21 victims with legal status, for a total of 66 identified trafficking victims, compared with 60 victims identified in 2011. Denmark successfully identified 17 labor trafficking victims in 2012, compared with none in 2011.
The center referred 39 of the identified trafficking victims to crisis centers and informed all victims of the availability of short term healthcare and legal assistance. Eight victims stayed in asylum centers. In addition to two existing government-supported crisis centers and a mobile outreach health unit that served victims of trafficking, the government opened an additional drop-in crisis center during the reporting period in northern Jutland to offer health and social services to trafficking victims, which resulted in improved coordination between social workers and police to refer potential victims of trafficking to the center instead of remanding them to police custody. Victims were free to come and go from these centers. The police worked with the crisis center and local service providers to prepare services for possible victims of trafficking in advance of raids on massage clinics during the reporting period.
Denmark’s 72-hour limitation for charging an individual with a crime, including violations of immigration law, served as a structural impediment to meaningful victim identification in detention settings, which may have led to the punishment of some victims for acts committed as a direct result of their trafficking. In November 2012, the Danish government allocated money through the 2013 financial bill to strengthen the efforts of the Danish center against human trafficking to improve confidence building in the early stages of interaction with victims.
Non-EU trafficking victims have both the option of applying for asylum in Denmark as well as receiving a residence permit if their stay is necessary for criminal investigations or proceedings; in practice these options have been rarely used. Since 2007, 11 foreign victims of foreign trafficking have been granted resident permits. There are no legal alternatives to removal specific to trafficking victims. For most non-EU victims, this precludes their presence and participation in prosecutions of their traffickers.
The Danish government provides non-EU victim services through a prepared return program. Victims officially identified by the Danish Immigration Service are granted a 30-day period in which to decide whether to accept a prepared return. During the reporting period, if victims accepted prepared return they could be granted a further 70-day postponement of removal from Denmark under section 33(1) of the Aliens Act. An amendment to the Alien’s Act passed in November 2012 that will come into force next reporting period provided funding for the extension of this period from 70 to 90 days. Prepared return provided up to 100 days of accommodation in a shelter, referrals to organizations in victims’ countries of origin to assist with repatriation and reintegration, preparation of travel documents, and escort during travel. In 2012, four victims of trafficking agreed to participate in the government’s prepared return program, compared to 12 victims who participated in 2011.
In June 2012, the director of public prosecutions published guidelines instructing police commissioners, chief prosecutors, and regional public prosecutors to withdraw charges against formally identified victims of trafficking if the alleged offence relates to the trafficking and cannot be characterized as a serious crime in response to the fact that Danish law does not provide statutory protection for trafficking victims against such prosecutions.
The Government of Denmark sustained efforts to prevent trafficking during the reporting period. The government’s center against human trafficking funded an NGO-run campaign aimed at increasing public awareness of sex trafficking and reducing demand for prostitution. The government allocated the equivalent of approximately $15.5 million to fund activities under the national action plan for 2011 to 2014. During the reporting period, the government designated the equivalent of an additional $680,000 to fund victim identification, prepared return, and public awareness prevention activities in 2013 and 2014. The Government of Denmark also supported the third phase of a program against human trafficking in Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine with a budget of the equivalent of approximately $2.7 million during the reporting period, Denmark’s largest assistance program to combat human trafficking abroad.
The government did not demonstrate efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor during the reporting period. The Danish Ministry of Defense provided human rights training to Danish soldiers prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions, which included instruction on its zero-tolerance policy on human trafficking.