Romania is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and women and children subjected to sex trafficking. Romanians represent a significant source of trafficking victims in Europe. Romanian men, women, and children are subjected to forced labor in agriculture, domestic service, hotels, and manufacturing, as well as forced begging and theft in European countries, including Austria, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Men, women, and children from Romania are victims of forced prostitution in European countries, including Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Children likely represent at least one-third of Romanian trafficking victims. Traffickers who recruit and exploit Romanian citizens are overwhelmingly Romanian themselves, typically seeking victims from the same ethnic group or within their own families. Frequently, traffickers exploit victims within Romania before transporting them abroad for forced prostitution or labor. The Romanian government reported increasing sophistication among Romanian criminal groups, including the transportation of victims to different countries in Europe in order to test law enforcement weaknesses in each. Romania is a destination country for a small number of foreign trafficking victims, including sex trafficking victims from Moldova and labor trafficking victims from Bangladesh and Serbia. Romanian girls and boys, particularly those whose parents work abroad, are vulnerable to sex trafficking throughout Romania. The government and NGO representatives noted an increase in the number of disabled victims.
The Government of Romania 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 identify a large number of victims and coordinated a national referral mechanism to ensure that police refer victims to appropriate care. Nevertheless, for a fourth consecutive year, the government did not provide funding to NGOs offering assistance to trafficking victims, and did not offer specialized shelter services in Bucharest for adults and children. Trafficking prosecutions and convictions increased significantly during the reporting period, and the government continued to sentence a high proportion of convicted offenders to prison terms. The Government of Romania’s central coordinating body on anti-trafficking efforts implemented several creative public awareness campaigns during the year.
Recommendations for Romania: Restore government funding for trafficking victim assistance programs, including grants for NGOs providing service to victims; improve the quality of victim services, ensuring that psychological care, rehabilitation, and other victim assistance provide substantive care; construct a trafficking-specific shelter for repatriated victims in Bucharest; remove non-security related restrictions on victims’ movements while housed in government-funded shelters; improve efforts to identify potential victims among vulnerable populations, such as undocumented migrants, foreign workers, Roma, and children involved in begging or prostitution; vigorously investigate and prosecute acts of trafficking-related complicity allegedly committed by government officials, and punish officials convicted of such crimes with prison sentences; improve the reporting of data on trafficking crimes prosecuted under Law No. 678/2001 and other relevant laws by disaggregating sex and labor trafficking offenses; consider offering foreign trafficking victims the right to work during the duration of their temporary residence permits; continue to provide victim sensitivity training for police and judges; and establish a national rapporteur to provide regular independent evaluations of national policies.
The Romanian government significantly improved its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period, conducting a high number of prosecutions and partnering with European counterparts on joint investigations. Romania prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons through Law No. 678/2001, which prescribes penalties of three to 15 years’ imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In 2012, Romanian authorities investigated 867 human trafficking cases, in contrast to 897 cases investigated in 2011. The government prosecuted 667 and convicted 427 trafficking offenders in 2012, compared with 480 offenders prosecuted and 276 convicted in 2011. The government does not separately compile statistics for sex and labor trafficking. Reflecting on the prevalence of child victims, 255 of the 427 convictions were tried under the “trafficking in minors” article of the anti-trafficking law, as opposed to the more generalized “trafficking in persons” article. The government reported that approximately three-quarters of the convicted trafficking offenders—334 of 427—were sentenced to some time in prison, receiving terms ranging between one and 15 years’ imprisonment. The government gave specialized anti-trafficking training to police officers, although reports indicated that the training did not adequately emphasize that trafficking victims should not be prosecuted for any unlawful acts they commit as part of being trafficked. During the year, Romanian officials participated in 94 joint trafficking investigations in partnership with counterparts in several European countries. In contrast to 2011, when no suspects were extradited from Romania, the government extradited 16 suspects for trafficking crimes in 2012. The government did not report investigating, prosecuting, or convicting any government employees for trafficking-related complicity.
The Government of Romania demonstrated weak efforts to protect and assist victims of trafficking during the reporting period, although victim identification remained high. The government reported the identification of 1,041 victims in 2012, compared with 1,043 victims identified in 2011. Sexually exploited victims numbered 526, approximately half of the total, whereas 410 victims were subjected to labor trafficking. Other victims were forced into begging, theft, or pornography. The prevalence of children in the victim population increased from 319 to 370 in 2012. Of the total number of victims, 492 were subjected to internal trafficking.
For the fourth consecutive year, the government failed to provide funding to NGOs offering protection services to trafficking victims. The continued lack of funding has reduced the level of assistance available from NGOs. The government continued to operate its national victim identification and referral mechanism, which provided formal procedures for victim referrals between law enforcement and other institutions. In 2012, the government referred 352 trafficking victims to care facilities for assistance; in 2011, 417 victims received government-funded services. Local governments financed and operated shelters, some of which were trafficking-specific. In 2012, these facilities provided shelter to 112 trafficking victims. NGOs reported that lack of freedom of movement was a significant issue in these shelters. Depending on the particular situation, trafficking victims received psychological services, school reintegration, training, legal advice, and health care. During the year, some government-funded psychological assistance reportedly was not consistently adapted to trafficking victims’ needs. No trafficking-specific shelter for adult trafficking victims operated in Bucharest, the country’s largest city, creating an assistance gap for victims identified in the capital or arriving there in the course of repatriation. The government maintained six transit centers for child victims located near international border crossings, although child victims identified abroad were often repatriated by plane via the airport in Bucharest. The government provided non-specialized care for child victims at emergency reception centers for abused children, which are located in each of the 41 counties and six administrative districts of Bucharest. The government continued to operate a trafficking-specific hotline, which allowed officials to identify victims and refer them to care. During the reporting period, the government fined some sex trafficking victims for prostitution. Romanian law permitted foreign victims a 90-day reflection period to remain in the country, though the government did not report the number of victims granted this reflection period. Third country national victims of trafficking could receive a temporary residence permit to remain in the country until the completion of a prosecution, although they were not allowed to work in Romania during the time of their residence permit. Romanian trafficking victims participated in criminal prosecutions at a high rate; in 2012, 600 victims participated as an injured party in a trial and 205 victims testified, compared to 882 victims participating in 2011 and 123 testifying.
The Government of Romania improved its prevention efforts through continued robust awareness campaigns and coordination of a national strategy and action plan to combat trafficking. The National Agency against Trafficking in Persons continued to coordinate anti-trafficking policies and the national referral mechanism. During the reporting period, it worked with NGOs to develop a new national strategy against trafficking in persons for the period 2012-2016 and the action plan for 2012-2014. The government implemented six national and regional public awareness campaigns and 36 local campaigns in 2012. These campaigns were visible in primary schools, high schools, bus advertisements, televisions in metro stations, movie theaters, and on the internet. A 2006 modification to the country’s criminal code newly prohibited Romania-based recruitment companies from facilitating the exploitation of citizens abroad, yet the government has never punished a company for trafficking-related acts. The government did not report specific efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts.