MACAU: Tier 2 Watch list
The Government of the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) of the People’s Republic of China does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated significant efforts during the reporting period by identifying victims of sex trafficking, partnering with an NGO to escort a child victim home, training numerous government officials, and allocating 5.5 million patacas ($684,500) to victim protection services and prevention programs. However, the government did not demonstrate increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period. Authorities investigated fewer cases than in the previous reporting period, did not obtain any sex trafficking convictions for the third consecutive year, and never obtained a labor trafficking conviction. Therefore Macau remained on Tier 2 Watch List for the second consecutive year.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MACAU
Significantly increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict sex and labor traffickers; provide training on the use of trafficking laws to prosecutors; improve and consistently implement proactive victim identification methods, especially among vulnerable populations such as migrant workers and children exploited in commercial sex; significantly increase efforts to screen for and identify labor trafficking and male victims, especially among the migrant worker population; increase protections for foreign domestic workers, including by instituting a minimum wage for foreign domestic workers; and conduct sex trafficking awareness campaigns so visitors in Macau understand that purchasing sex with children is a crime.
Authorities maintained anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The anti-trafficking law, law number 6/2008 within the penal code, criminalized sex and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of three to 15 years imprisonment, which were sufficiently stringent and, with regard to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Authorities conducted investigations of three suspected human trafficking cases in 2017 (eight in 2016); all three investigations involved suspected sex trafficking. The government initiated one prosecution in 2017 (two in 2016) in a case involving child sex trafficking; however, authorities used the “procuring of prostitution” law and did not prosecute any cases under the trafficking statute. The government did not obtain any sex trafficking convictions for the third consecutive year and has never obtained a labor trafficking conviction. The government continued to include a trafficking component in mandated training for new police, fire, customs, and immigration recruits and provided additional training when officials were promoted. Authorities organized anti-trafficking law enforcement and awareness trainings for an increased number of police, customs, and other law enforcement personnel in 2017. The government reported cooperating with mainland Chinese and Hong Kong authorities on anti-trafficking efforts through intelligence exchanges and joint investigations. Authorities did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of officials complicit in human trafficking offenses.
Authorities maintained efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims. Police identified three victims of sex trafficking, including two children and one adult, compared to four in 2016. Authorities have never identified labor trafficking victims in Macau, despite reports of Indonesian officials identifying Indonesian trafficking victims in Macau during the year. Authorities had formal victim identification procedures, an operational referral processes, and standardized screening questionnaires that could guide law enforcement, immigration, and social services personnel to screen individuals vulnerable to trafficking. Officials distributed questionnaires to workers, including those in construction, to screen for trafficking; it was unclear how officials administered these questionnaires. Police and social welfare bureau (SWB) officials referred both child victims identified in 2017 to a government-funded NGO that offered shelter, counseling, and economic and medical assistance. SWB partnered with a mainland Chinese organization to escort one child victim to her home in mainland China and arranged for vocational training. The government also provided training focused on identification and protection of sex and labor trafficking victims to an increased number of social welfare, health, law enforcement, and labor officials. SWB designated shelters for female and male trafficking victims, but did not report providing shelter to any adult victims in 2017; the one adult victim identified in 2017 chose to be repatriated. The government allocated approximately 1.9 million patacas ($234,500) on victim protection services, including allocations to NGOs for service provision at shelters, compared to 1.6 million patacas ($200,000) allocated in 2016. There were no reports of victims penalized for unlawful acts committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking. Authorities generally accepted a written statement in lieu of oral testimony to encourage victim participation in the prosecution of trafficking crimes. Macau law did not provide trafficking victims with permanent residency as a legal alternative to removal to countries in which they would face retribution or hardship; however, authorities reported a policy which allowed foreign victims to reside and work in Macau on the basis of “well-founded humanitarian reasons,” but it was unclear if any victims have benefited from this policy.
Authorities maintained efforts to prevent trafficking. The interagency Human Trafficking Deterrent Measures Concern Committee, led by the security bureau, coordinated Macau’s anti-trafficking efforts; the government allocated 3.6 million patacas ($450,000) to the committee for anti-trafficking activities in 2017, compared to 3.2 million patacas allocated in 2016 ($400,000). The labor affairs bureau (LAB) and law enforcement agencies disseminated television commercials, as well as pamphlets and posters in eight different languages to raise awareness of trafficking. The government ran trafficking awareness videos at all border checkpoints. Authorities held labor rights seminars that reached more than 10,000 students and migrant workers, including those in the domestic helper and construction industries. In cooperation with an NGO, SWB sponsored a competition encouraging students to identify anti-trafficking solutions. Some governmental policies may have increased migrant workers’ vulnerability to trafficking. For example, immigration regulations prevented migrant workers who were fired for just causes (such as criminal behavior, abuse, and non-payment of wages) or resigned without just causes before the expiration of a contract from obtaining a new work permit for six months. There was no minimum wage established for foreign domestic workers. LAB adjudicated the labor dispute cases of 1,430 migrant workers, and inspected 22 construction sites and 196 employment agencies for labor violations. LAB investigated 13 complaints of overcharging by employment agencies, of which four were substantiated and two remained under investigation by the end of the reporting period. The government made some efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts.
As reported over the past five years, Macau is primarily a destination and, to a much lesser extent, a transit territory for women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Sex trafficking victims originate primarily from mainland China and Southeast Asia; many are from northern Chinese provinces and travel to the border province of Guangdong in search of more lucrative employment. Many trafficking victims respond to false advertisements for jobs, including in casinos in Macau, but upon arrival are forced into prostitution. Traffickers sometimes exploit victims in massage parlors, illegal brothels, apartments, and houses where they are closely monitored, threatened with violence, forced to work long hours, and have their identity documents confiscated. Migrant construction and domestic workers may be vulnerable to labor exploitation. Some brokers who bring foreign men and women, such as foreign domestic workers based in Hong Kong, to Macau to renew work visas for other countries restrict these workers’ movements and withhold their passports in conditions indicative of debt bondage and forced labor.