NORWAY: Tier 1
The Government of Norway fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period; therefore Norway remained on Tier 1. The government demonstrated serious and sustained efforts by increasing prosecutions and convictions, referring more victims to care, and allocating more funding for victim assistance. Although the government meets the minimum standards, it continued to lack formal written victim identification procedures and a national victim referral mechanism. Legal procedures for appealing rejected asylum applications risked limiting identification of trafficking victims among asylum-seekers. Also, a lack of training and will among investigators, prosecutors, and judges to pursue complex trafficking cases has reportedly led many trafficking cases to be tried as lesser crimes—which leads to diminished rights for victims of trafficking—or not be prosecuted at all.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NORWAY
Increase training for investigators and prosecutors on compiling evidence, especially in labor trafficking cases, that goes beyond victim testimony; train prosecutors and judges on the application of penal codes 257 and 258; vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict sex and labor traffickers; allocate earmarked resources for all police departments to investigate trafficking crimes; reassess national legislation limiting the period for appealing rejected asylum decisions to allow sufficient time for identifying victims of trafficking; complete a comprehensive national referral mechanism (NRM) that receives adequate input from NGOs and defines procedures and roles of all relevant government agencies and front-line actors; create national written victim identification procedures; complete a comprehensive statistical system on trafficking data, including victim identification and assistance as well as investigation, prosecution, conviction and victim compensation data; proactively screen foreigners and asylum-seekers in detention for indicators of trafficking prior to their deportation; and produce public awareness campaigns on trafficking.
The government maintained law enforcement efforts. Sections 257 and 258 of the penal code criminalized labor and sex trafficking and prescribed penalties of up to six years imprisonment for offenses involving adult victims and up to 10 years imprisonment for those involving child victims. These penalties were sufficiently stringent, and with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with penalties for other serious crimes, such as rape. Authorities initiated 46 investigations (30 sex trafficking cases and 16 labor trafficking cases), compared with 46 (42 sex trafficking cases and four labor trafficking cases) in 2016. The government reported 13 concluded prosecutions, compared with seven in 2016. Authorities convicted 11 traffickers in six cases (four sex trafficking and two labor trafficking) —with five traffickers convicted in appeals and six traffickers convicted through district courts. In 2016, four individuals were convicted in four cases (three sex trafficking and one labor trafficking)—two in appeals and two through district courts. All of the convicted traffickers in the 2017 reporting period were sentenced to one year imprisonment or more. In one high-profile case involving 13 Norwegian nationals accused of trafficking 12 Pakistani citizens, the court postponed making its decision and the case remained pending at the close of the reporting period.
In 2017, the National Criminal Investigation Service conducted a national seminar on trafficking, utilizing a new standardized training curriculum developed at the end of the prior reporting period, for police officers that did not have experience working on trafficking crimes. In 2015, the government earmarked 15 million kroner ($1.8 million) annually for the establishment of anti-trafficking units in all 12 districts in Norway. Funds were allocated for five of these police districts as of 2016; the government did not report providing any of this funding in 2017. The Bergen police maintained a specialized unit dedicated to combating trafficking, yet reports alleged its efforts to investigate trafficking and collaboration with NGOs decreased. GRETA’s most recent report indicated that while the Coordination Unit for Victims of Human Trafficking (KOM)—responsible for overseeing coordination among all organizations and authorities who address trafficking—held numerous presentations and lectures annually, more specific trainings on different aspects of trafficking, such as rights of victims and investigations, should increase. Many police districts did not have prosecutors with specialized training in trafficking cases; as a result, prosecutors sometimes brought pimping charges in trafficking cases when the accused trafficker used forms of force, fraud, or coercion other than physical violence. In these cases, victims were not automatically provided the benefits given under the trafficking laws, and convicted offenders could receive penalties that were not dissuasive or proportionate to the crime. Even when trafficking perpetrators were prosecuted for pimping, if authorities believed there might have been elements of trafficking associated with the crime, the victims have sometimes been eligible for a residence permit. With a residence permit, victims were entitled to social benefits such as financial support and welfare services. A government report found a large number of trafficking cases that were investigated were not prosecuted, due in part to limitation on prosecutorial capacity and training to deal with trafficking cases, as well as investigators relying solely on victims’ testimonies without additional evidence that would help support successful prosecutions; this could discourage potential victims from reporting their trafficking cases. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in trafficking offenses.
The government decreased protection efforts. The government began creating a comprehensive statistical system, per a recommendation from GRETA, on trafficking statistics including victim identification and assistance data. As a result, the government did not report how many victims it identified or assisted in 2017; the government identified and provided services for 262 trafficking victims in 2016. In 2017, the government’s ROSA project (re-establishment, organizing safe places to stay, security, assistance) received 38 victim referrals from government agencies, compared with 13 victim referrals in 2016. The government did not have any formal written identification procedures, but government agencies that came into contact with potential victims often referred to KOM’s national guidelines on how to identify and refer potential victims. The government provided protection to trafficking victims through municipal crisis centers and government-funded NGOs. These NGOs provided foreign and domestic victims with shelter, legal aid, stipends for food, psychological care, medical assistance, fitness facilities, and Norwegian language classes. ROSA provided training to both airport and border police on victim identification during the reporting period.
Additionally, ROSA managed a 24-hour hotline for potential victims and continued seeing an increase in calls, particularly from potential labor trafficking victims. ROSA received 118 initial contacts from possible victims through their hotline, compared with 97 contacts in 2016. The contrast in numbers is a result of the type of assistance needed once contact is made with ROSA. Of the 118 making initial contact, 45 ultimately accepted shelter, compared to 40 in 2016. In 2017, Parliament earmarked 20 million kroner ($2.4 million) in grant schemes to NGOs, exclusively for measures to prevent trafficking and support victims. ROSA remained the largest project exclusively intended to assist victims of trafficking and received 6.2 million kroner ($756,470) in government funding. Various NGOs received grants of the remaining 13.9 million kroner ($1.7 million) to operate shelters, including one for male victims. Another publicly supported NGO assisted sex trafficking victims who had been granted a reflection period with vocational programs and sponsored internships. Child Welfare Services provided specialized care to child victims, including accommodation in a child protection institution or a foster home. Foreign victims had the same access to care as domestic victims, but their knowledge of available care and services may have been more limited. KOM did not collect detailed statistics on child trafficking victims, as child victims are under care of the Child Welfare Service. GRETA previously reported Norwegian border officials did not adequately identify potential victims. Experts observed the police were under pressure to deport individuals without legal status and often pursued deportation without screening for indicators of trafficking, particularly among individuals in prostitution.
The government did not have a national referral mechanism (NRM), but KOM and the MOJ were developing one during the reporting period. Observers expressed concern the proposed NRM and identification procedures would be under the labor and welfare administration agency, an agency with minimal experience and knowledge on how to deal with victims, or of trafficking trends in general. Additionally, the proposed NRM would reduce the reflection period for victims from six months to 45 days, raising the fear that victims would not seek assistance or file a report with police, and authorities would deport victims without proper screening. NGOs had limited engagement with MOJ in the planning process for the NRM; GRETA’s recent report recommended that the government give NGOs a larger role in decisions concerning victims of trafficking. Authorities granted a six-month reflection period to eight victims and limited residence permits, up to 12 months, to 15 victims in 2017, compared with 24 and 23, respectively, in 2016. Victims were required to file a formal complaint to police and assist authorities on their trafficking investigation in order to be eligible for the limited residence permits. Ten possible victims were granted residence permits due to compelling humanitarian considerations or a particular connection to Norway during the reporting period. Reports claimed that fewer residence permits were issued to victims on the basis of human trafficking, which diminished the victims’ status as a trafficking victim and hindered the ability to fully understand the scale of trafficking in-country. Observers expressed concern over the lack of communication between police and immigration authorities, resulting in the deportation of victims who may have merited temporary residency or whose country of origin were conflict-ridden or left victims susceptible to threats of violence. GRETA raised concerns that new amendments to asylum legislation, shortening deadlines for asylum-seekers to appeal a rejected application from three weeks to one week, risked limiting the possibilities for identifying victims of trafficking among asylum-seekers. Forced labor victims who were material witnesses against a former employer could obtain other employment while awaiting trial and are eligible to leave the country before trial proceedings. Victims facing retribution or hardship in their countries of origin could apply for asylum after law enforcement no longer required their assistance; seven victims received asylum status in 2017 (17 in 2016).
The government maintained modest prevention efforts. Norway continued to implement measures from the anti-trafficking action plan. The government did not fund any information campaigns targeted towards potential trafficking victims in 2017. The government raised awareness among employers about regulations for employing migrants, as well as notifying the public to refrain from using abnormally cheap services, in an attempt to combat forced labor. The government did not report any specific measures to reduce the demand for commercial sex. The government prosecuted and convicted some citizens who committed online sexual exploitation of children in Norway and foreign countries; the government reported criminally charging 84 Norwegians as a result of these investigations since 2016. The government provided anti-trafficking training to troops prior to their deployment abroad as part of international peacekeeping missions.
As reported over the past five years, Norway is a destination and, to a lesser extent, transit and source country for women and girls subjected to sex trafficking, and for men and women subjected to forced labor in domestic service, cleaning, and construction. Children are subjected to domestic servitude, forced begging, and forced criminal activity, such as shoplifting and drug sales. Trafficking victims identified in Norway primarily originate from Eastern Europe and Africa—particularly Bulgaria, Lithuania, Nigeria, and Romania, as well as victims from Pakistan and the Philippines. Foreign au pairs are vulnerable to trafficking in Norway. Some unaccompanied children, who applied for asylum or disappeared from asylum centers were subjected to trafficking by organized trafficking groups.