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, in nursing, and construction sectors. Children are subjected to forced begging and forced criminal activity, such as shoplifting and drug sales. Most trafficking victims identified in Norway originated in Nigeria, while others came from Eastern Europe (Belarus, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Romania) and Africa (Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ghana, Kenya). These victims usually travel to Norway on Schengen visas issued by other European countries, and transit through several countries, such as Italy, Spain, and Morocco. African trafficking offenders often coerce victims into prostitution through threats to family at home and threats of voodoo. Traffickers from Eastern Europe are typically members of small family mafias; offenders seduce young women in their home countries and convince them to come to Norway, where they are forced into prostitution. Some foreign au pairs, including those from the Philippines, are vulnerable to trafficking in Norway.
The Government of Norway fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The Norwegian government has adopted a victim-centered approach, offering generous and diverse victim services through specialized NGOs and local governments. Norwegian law obligates municipalities to offer trafficking victims shelter, regardless of residence status and the victim’s willingness to testify in court. In 2012, authorities investigated and prosecuted more labor trafficking cases, although prosecutions for sex trafficking offenses continued to decline. Government-funded NGOs opened more shelter facilities for male victims, but specialized care for children remained deficient. The government studied the vulnerability of au pairs to trafficking and created a new telephone counseling service.
Recommendations for Norway: Continue efforts to vigorously prosecute and convict both sex and labor trafficking offenders; investigate why few labor trafficking investigations result in prosecutions; ensure that child victims of trafficking receive specialized care; ensure that male trafficking victims receive adequate shelter and that all governmental anti-trafficking efforts are structured to address male as well as female victims of trafficking; ensure that front-line responders understand and offer a reflection period to identified victims, during which victims can receive services and recover from their trauma; consider options for the provision of longer-term victim assistance in non-emergency shelters; and fund a national or targeted anti-trafficking awareness campaign.
The Norwegian government demonstrated some progress in its law enforcement efforts during the reporting period through increased investigations and prosecutions for labor trafficking, though sex trafficking prosecutions continued to decrease. Norway prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons 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. Norwegian authorities initiated 26 sex trafficking investigations and 22 labor trafficking investigations in 2012, compared with 32 sex trafficking and 12 labor trafficking investigations initiated in 2011. The government prosecuted a total of at least eight trafficking suspects—two for sex trafficking and six for labor trafficking—under Section 224 in 2012, compared with six sex trafficking suspects and one labor trafficking suspect in 2011. Authorities convicted at least seven trafficking offenders —three for sex trafficking and four for labor trafficking—in 2012, compared with seven offenders convicted in 2011; all of the convicted traffickers received jail sentences. In January 2013, the Supreme Court upheld the sentences of two traffickers who had received sentences of four and a half and five years’ imprisonment for forcing children into criminal activity.
The cities of Bergen, Ostfold, Oslo, and Trondheim maintained specialized anti-trafficking units in their police forces. In April 2012, the Ministry of Justice sponsored a national seminar for 125 police officers and prosecutors on Norway’s trafficking situation and techniques to detect, investigate, and prevent trafficking. Experts reported that some prosecutors interpreted anti-trafficking laws too narrowly and, as a result, did not always apply trafficking charges when needed. The government continued to provide new police officers with training on identifying and assisting trafficking victims, as well as periodic in-service training to all police officers on the referral processes. The government also supplied the police with “action cards” that detail the procedures when encountering a trafficking victim. Norwegian authorities collaborated with counterparts in several other European countries to investigate transnational trafficking cases, including Moldova and Sweden. The Norwegian government did not report the investigation or prosecution of any public officials for trafficking-related complicity.
The Government of Norway demonstrated strong victim protection efforts during the reporting period through sustained funding and increased services to male victims, although specialized care for children remained deficient. The Norwegian government provided protection to trafficking victims through government-funded NGOs, church associations, and municipalities. These NGOs offered both foreign and domestic victims a generous range of assistance, including shelter, legal aid, stipends for food, psychological care, medical assistance, fitness facilities, and Norwegian language classes. An NGO specializing in caring for trafficking victims who have received a reflection period offered vocational programs, education, and sponsored internships for victims who had completed a reflection period. Although some of the specialized NGOs primarily offered services to women, a few programs opened new facilities, including apartments, for men. By law, Norwegian municipalities were obligated to offer trafficking victims shelter, regardless of their immigration status. One of the main government-funded institutions for trafficking victim care received 146 contacts from trafficking victims in 2012, in contrast to 128 contacts in 2011. Sixteen of these initial contacts were men. Of these 146 initial contacts, 42 women or girl trafficking victims ultimately were housed by the victim care institution. According to the Rosa Center, there were no shelters to assist men or boy trafficking victims. The primary government-funded project received the equivalent of approximately $440,000 in funding for trafficking victim care; this sum does not include the costs for most of the aid given to victims by municipalities—including free medical care—nor the financial allocations to other NGO anti-trafficking projects. In 2012, the Norwegian government reported identifying and providing services for 274 trafficking victims, including 191 women, 18 men, and 65 children, compared with 272 trafficking victims assisted in 2011. NGOs reported fairly extensive coordination efforts with the government on victim assistance. The government’s Child Welfare Services assisted children directly. In 2012, the government passed the Child Welfare Act, which enabled authorities to place children, who are assumed victims of trafficking, in an institution without their consent for a period of up to six months. However, observers reported that some child welfare staff members were not adequately aware of human trafficking or of how to assist child victims of trafficking.
The Norwegian government permitted trafficking victims to stay in Norway without conditions during a six-month reflection period, a time for them to receive immediate care and assistance while they consider whether to assist law enforcement with a trafficking investigation and prosecution. The government also offered a permanent residency permit for victims facing retribution or hardship in their countries of origin, on the condition that they give statements to the police outside of court. Any victim of trafficking—regardless of potential retribution or hardship at home—who made a formal complaint to the police, could remain in Norway for the duration of court proceedings; victims who testified in court were entitled to permanent residency. In 2012, Norwegian authorities issued 51 temporary residence permits to trafficking victims and granted asylum to 18 trafficking victims. At least four victims testified in human trafficking cases in court. NGOs reported that several trafficking victims received restitution in 2012. NGOs did not report the detention or punishment of any identified trafficking victims, but some potential victims may have been punished for document forgery.
The Norwegian government sustained its trafficking prevention efforts during the reporting period. It framed many of its anti-trafficking prevention efforts in terms of preventing trafficking from source countries. The Norwegian government continued to be a leading international anti-trafficking donor, significantly supporting victim care throughout the world, including in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, and Thailand. The government did not fund any broad-based national trafficking awareness campaigns targeting labor or sex trafficking. The Ministry of Justice did not report any cases of authorities punishing labor recruiters involved in the recruitment of workers through knowingly fraudulent offers of employment. The national coordinator enhanced transparency of the government’s anti-trafficking efforts by publishing statistical reports on them. In 2012, the government evaluated the Norwegian au pair system and in January 2013, it created a telephone counseling service for au pairs in case they experience problems, including exploitative employers. The government undertook steps to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. The Norwegian national criminal investigation service monitored the travel of Norwegian nationals to known child sex tourism destinations. The government provided anti-trafficking training to Norwegian troops prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.