Portugal is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Trafficking victims identified in Portugal are from Brazil, Mozambique, Bulgaria, Ghana, Nigeria, Romania, Bosnia, Croatia, Nepal, and Thailand. A growing number of Portuguese victims are subjected to forced labor in restaurants, agriculture, and domestic work in Portugal and Spain. Roma criminal groups force vulnerable disabled and homeless populations to work. Children from eastern Europe, particularly Roma, are subjected to forced begging in Portugal, often by their families, and other children from eastern Europe have reportedly been forced to commit property crimes. Portuguese victims are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking after migrating to other destinations in Europe. Workers from former Portuguese colonies and other non-EU nationals based in Portugal are reportedly subjected to labor trafficking in Luxembourg, where they live in inhumane conditions and are denied wages.
The Government of Portugal does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government continued to employ standardized procedures for identifying victims of trafficking and it conducted multiple trainings to raise awareness of human trafficking among government officials. The government continued to fund a small shelter providing specialized services to female victims of trafficking. The government did not provide evidence, however, that trafficking offenders were held accountable through prosecutions, convictions, and appropriate sentences during the reporting period.
Recommendations for Portugal: Provide data that demonstrates the Government of Portugal vigorously prosecutes and convicts trafficking offenders and sentences them to punishments that reflect the gravity of their crimes; continue to train judges in order to raise awareness of human trafficking and encourage application of the law to obtain appropriate and dissuasive sentencing; adapt specialized services for victims of trafficking to meet the needs of labor trafficking victims, male victims, and child victims; leverage the existing network of health care workers already trained to address sexual violence and train them to better identify and respond to indicators of sex trafficking and forced labor; continue to train law enforcement officials, prosecutors, labor inspectors, social workers, and NGOs likely to be in a position to identify and assist victims of trafficking to ensure victims are protected and trafficking offenders are effectively prosecuted; ensure that, in practice, victims who are not assisting with a law enforcement investigation are confirmed as identified victims of trafficking and provided with assistance after referral by NGOs; ensure that services for victims of trafficking that are delegated to NGOs to provide, such as psycho-social assistance and assistance with immigration claims, are adequately funded; improve screening for trafficking among the vulnerable population of children in out-of-home care; consider explicitly stating in law the irrelevance of the initial consent of a victim of trafficking to improve the implementation of the anti-trafficking law; and promote efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor.
The Government of Portugal did not demonstrate evidence of progress in holding trafficking offenders accountable during the reporting period. Portugal prohibits all forms of trafficking through Article 160 of the penal code, which prescribes penalties of three to 12 years’ imprisonment—penalties sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape. Article 160 also encompasses illicit adoption and organ removal. In addition, Article 159 prohibits slavery, Article 163 prohibits forced prostitution, and Article 175 prohibits the prostitution of children. The government reported that it prosecuted eight alleged trafficking offenders under Article 160 in 2011. The government did not report any convictions for human trafficking offenses under Article 160, nor did it disaggregate data to demonstrate how many of the eight defendants were prosecuted for forced labor or sex trafficking. The government reported it convicted six offenders under Article 159. Possible human trafficking crimes were also reportedly prosecuted under articles for pimping, criminal association, or abetting illegal aliens—crimes for which a lesser burden of proof is required and convictions are easier to obtain. The Government of Portugal is prohibited by its constitutional privacy law from releasing data on convictions for crimes for which there were fewer than three incidents recorded within a year nationwide. Because the government did not report on convictions for trafficking in persons offenses under Article 160 for 2011, it is assumed that between zero and two trafficking offenders may have been convicted under that law. A total of six convictions obtained under Article 159 in 2011 does not demonstrate vigorous prosecution, conviction, and sentencing of trafficking offenders. A network of points of contact for trafficking in persons was set up within the public prosecutor’s office in 2012. The government encouraged victims to assist in prosecutions through witness protection and opportunities to testify by deposition or videoconference.
A 2013 Report on Portugal by the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) noted concern over the low number of convictions for human trafficking. GRETA reported that of the six offenders convicted in 2011 under Article 159, three were sentenced to prison terms of eight, 12, and 20 years, as well as the payment of wages totaling the equivalent of approximately $98,800. One offender was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment, suspended on condition of payment of compensation to the victim of the equivalent of approximately $5,200. Two offenders were sentenced to seven years and six months and five years and six months, respectively. The UNODC Human Trafficking Case Law Database listed a conviction under Article 160 for human trafficking; the offender subjected Romanian women to sex trafficking. Sentencing data for this conviction was not available.
Some NGOs reported that, while the law does not require victims to participate in law enforcement investigations in order to access services, in practice, the small number of victims who access specialized services for victims of trafficking were limited to those identified by law enforcement and who were participating in active criminal proceedings. The government trained 96 labor inspectors on how to identify and report suspected trafficking situations, and to date, nearly half of all labor inspectors have been trained on anti-trafficking awareness. The government also trained 30 prosecutors, 30 judges, and several immigration and equality officials on anti-trafficking awareness. It did not report any investigations or prosecutions of government employees for alleged complicity in trafficking-related offenses during the reporting period.
The government maintained efforts to protect and assist victims of trafficking in 2012. The government is investigating 93 identified victims of trafficking out of 125 potential victims flagged in 2012, compared to 23 confirmed out of 71 potential victims flagged in 2011. Of the 53 trafficking victims identified within Portugal in 2012, 36 were subjected to forced labor, including 31 children. Forty Portuguese men were identified abroad as victims of labor trafficking. The government continued to subsidize one NGO-run shelter in Porto that specialized in care for victims of trafficking and provided the equivalent of approximately $136,630 to its operation in 2012, which was consistent with the level of support provided in 2011. The shelter provides legal, psychological, medical, social, education, and vocational assistance. Nine women and their minor dependents were served by the shelter in 2012. Other identified victims received from the government nutritional assistance, child protective services, and assistance with return to country of origin. Male victims were referred to homeless shelters and additional services from NGOs. NGOs reported that child victims of trafficking were under-identified; officials were not well-trained to detect trafficking indicators among the vulnerable population of children in out-of-home care. Some NGOs were reluctant to report trafficking cases to the police out of fear that an investigation might expose victims to the traffickers as potential witnesses, concern over victims’ confidentiality, and apprehension that a report to law enforcement might result in a victim’s removal from the country. The government maintained that victim identification and access to services is not dependent on victims’ willingness to assist law enforcement. The majority of victims confirmed by the government were referred by law enforcement; in the absence of confirmed identification by the government, victims referred by NGOs but not involved in an investigation did not, in practice, receive assistance from the government. Portugal’s anti-trafficking law provides for a “reflection period” of up to 60 days—time in which victims can recover before deciding whether to cooperate with law enforcement—however, no cases were reported in which a presumed victim of trafficking was granted this reflection period during the reporting period. The law also provides for a residence permit that may be issued before the end of the reflection period if the victim agrees to cooperate with law enforcement or based on a personal situation with regard to the victim’s security, health, or family. Twenty-nine victims were issued a residence permit in 2012.
The Government of Portugal sustained efforts to prevent trafficking in persons during the year. The government adopted the UNODC “Blue Heart” campaign against human trafficking and disseminated awareness information and materials aimed at the general population through the radio, television, print media, and billboards. The government translated into Portuguese a UNODC manual for criminal justice practitioners and disseminated it to Brazil, Angola, Sao Tome and Principe, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, and East Timor. The government also organized and funded training in Lisbon for 20 law enforcement officials from Portuguese-speaking countries. The government organized a conference on labor trafficking for parliamentarians, government officials, diplomats, and NGOs. Portugal’s national action plan to combat trafficking, launched in 2011, remains valid through 2013. The Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality was responsible for coordinating anti-trafficking activities with support from a technical committee of various ministries and the presidency of the Council of Ministers. Implementation of the second phase of the national action plan focused on training of labor inspectors, prosecutors, and judges. The government’s Observatory on Trafficking in Human Beings maintained a website, Facebook page, and blog to promote public awareness of human trafficking. The government reported it launched several campaigns to raise public awareness on human trafficking, including among potential clients of the sex trade. The government did not demonstrate efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor. The government did not report any efforts to reduce the participation in international child sex tourism by Portuguese nationals and the government did not report any cases of alleged child sex tourism during the reporting period.