Portugal

Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Tier 1

PORTUGAL: Tier 1

The Government of Portugal fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period; therefore Portugal remained on Tier 1. The government demonstrated serious and sustained efforts by increasing the number of investigations, training more law enforcement personnel, and sentencing the majority of convicted traffickers with strong penalties. The government approved its fourth national action plan for 2018 to 2021. Although the government meets the minimum standards, it prosecuted significantly fewer traffickers, identified significantly fewer victims, and lacked specialized services for child victims.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PORTUGAL

Increase proactive identification of victims, particularly adult and child sex trafficking victims; increase resources for law enforcement and labor inspectors monitoring for labor trafficking; increase prosecutions and convictions of traffickers; provide specialized shelter and assistance for child trafficking victims; increase victim identification training within the health care sector, specifically for victims of sexual exploitation; continue to increase and document use of victim services, such as shelters and residence permits, and ensure availability of a sufficient number of places to accommodate all victims in need of shelter; continue to train immigration and social workers, law enforcement, labor inspectors, and NGOs on victim identification and referral; strengthen monitoring and regulation of temporary employment agencies, including employing and recruiting domestic workers; and increase efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex.

PROSECUTION

The government maintained law enforcement efforts. Article 160 of the penal code criminalized sex and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of three to 10 years imprisonment, which were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape. Article 159 prohibited slavery and prescribed penalties of five to 15 years imprisonment. Article 175 prohibited child sex trafficking, with penalties of one to 10 years imprisonment, although it classified these crimes as pimping rather than trafficking.

In 2017, the government investigated 103 potential trafficking cases, compared with 83 in 2016. Authorities did not report how many cases involved labor or sex trafficking. In 2017, authorities prosecuted 45 defendants in 12 cases, compared with 77 defendants in nine cases prosecuted in 2016. Courts convicted and sentenced 12 traffickers in 2017 (one sex trafficking and 11 forced labor), compared with 15 convictions in 2016. Eleven out of the 12 sentences issued were more than one year imprisonment, and the average sentence was seven and a half years imprisonment. Authorities suspended only one sentence compared with five in 2016. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in trafficking offenses. The judiciary police provided training in investigations and victim identification to 40 of its senior officials and 80 mid-level officials. The office of the attorney general reported more than 100 prosecutors received anti-trafficking training in 2017. The immigration and border service provided victim identification training to 60 border officers and 44 new border officers received anti-trafficking training as part of their initial training. The national rapporteur held training programs for first responders in districts vulnerable to labor trafficking, including police, social workers, and health professionals. Authorities cooperated with Ireland, Romania, Spain, and the United Kingdom on international trafficking cases during the reporting period.

PROTECTION

The government maintained protection efforts. The government’s national referral system coordinated victim assistance efforts between law enforcement and government-supported NGOs. During the reporting period, the government, with input from two NGOs, updated the referral system process to streamline communication between law enforcement and victim assistance providers and to ensure all stakeholders were represented nationwide. The government’s anti-trafficking agency provided a checklist to law enforcement, NGOs, health care professionals, and social workers on identifying victims of forced prostitution, forced labor, and forced begging and criminality. The government also provided victim identification guidelines to labor inspectors. Civil society reported the health care sector lacked sufficient training on identification for victims of sexual exploitation.

Upon encountering a potential victim, law enforcement personnel conducted an initial standardized risk assessment; individuals deemed vulnerable or at risk were referred to one of five regional multidisciplinary NGO teams to receive specialized shelter and assistance. The multidisciplinary teams comprised psychologists and social workers. First responders and social service providers could refer potential victims to services, but only law enforcement officials could officially “confirm” an individual a victim of trafficking. GRETA reported there was no timeline for authorities to confirm official victim status; the process depended on the duration of the related prosecution. In 2017, authorities identified 171 potential victims and four confirmed victims, compared with 143 potential and 118 confirmed victims in 2016. Potential victims received the same access to services as confirmed victims. In 2017, the government provided approximately €1 million ($1.2 million) to shelters and the multidisciplinary regional teams, the same amount as 2016. Victims and their minor children had the right to shelter, health care, psycho-social, legal, and translation and interpretation services, as well as education and employment training. The three government-funded NGO-operated shelters were exclusively for trafficking victims—two for female victims and their minor children and one for adult male victims. GRETA reported the shelters could each accommodate a limited number of victims and noted a growing need for additional shelter places. Adult victims could leave the shelters at will unless authorities determined victims’ safety was at risk. There were no specialized services for child trafficking victims; child victims instead received care under Portugal’s child protection system and were placed in institutions if they could not be placed with family members. The government reported it would open a fourth shelter solely for child trafficking victims in 2018. The shelter would offer comprehensive assistance tailored to child victims. The government, working through its five regional anti-trafficking teams, conducted 303 training and awareness sessions (220 in 2016), which reached 70,487 beneficiaries, including health care professionals, law enforcement, lawyers, social services professionals, and students.

The government could offer witness protection to victims participating in trials; victims could testify by deposition or videoconference and had access to medical and psychological services to prevent re-traumatization. The government offered victims a reflection period of 30 to 60 days, during which they could recover before deciding whether to cooperate with law enforcement. The law also provided for a one-year residence permit for victims based on cooperation with law enforcement or a personal situation regarding their security, health, family situation, or vulnerability; this permit could be renewed indefinitely. Civil society reported the need for expedited issuance of residency permits for victims. Portuguese law allowed victims to seek compensation from and file criminal proceedings against their traffickers; victims may seek compensation from the government if the convicted trafficker was unable to pay the awarded restitution. The government did not report whether any victims received compensation from their traffickers or the government. There were no reports the government penalized victims for unlawful acts committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking; however, GRETA reported the lack of a specific provision in Portuguese law protecting victims from prosecution for acts they were coerced to commit could leave victims vulnerable to individual prosecutors’ decisions to bring charges.

PREVENTION

The government maintained prevention efforts. The government maintained a multi-stakeholder anti-trafficking network, including a national rapporteur, representatives from various government agencies, and three NGOs. In March 2018, the government approved the fourth national action plan for 2018 to 2021. The plan was created with input from the full anti-trafficking network and focused on victim assistance, awareness, and combating criminal networks. The government’s anti-trafficking was expected to publish an annual report and issued three internal quarterly reports detailing the trafficking situation in the country. The multidisciplinary regional teams held awareness campaigns on sexual and labor exploitation throughout the reporting period. According to the rapporteur, labor authorities increased inspections in areas where persons are vulnerable for exploitation, particularly places of agricultural activity, construction sites, catering facilities, and nightlife establishments. However, a trade union representing labor inspectors reported to the media there was a lack of resources to inspect farms for forced labor. The government screened vetted visa applicants’ work contracts and travel documents. GRETA noted, however, a need to strengthen monitoring and regulation of temporary employment and recruitment agencies, especially those employing and recruiting domestic workers. The government continued to conduct a corporate social responsibility campaign to address labor exploitation, which targeted Portuguese companies’ supply chains. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex. Laws prohibiting sexual crimes against children had extraterritorial reach, allowing the prosecution of suspected child sex tourists for offenses committed abroad; there were no reported investigations of Portuguese citizens engaging in child sex tourism abroad. The government provided anti-trafficking training to its diplomatic personnel and peacekeeping troops.

TRAFFICKING PROFILE

As reported over the past five years, Portugal is a destination, transit and, to a lesser extent, source country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Trafficking victims primarily originate from West Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, and, to a lesser extent, Latin America. Most victims are subjected to forced labor, with seasonal migrant workers especially vulnerable. Foreign labor trafficking victims are exploited in agriculture, construction, and domestic service, while Portuguese victims are exploited in restaurants, agriculture, and domestic service, primarily in Portugal and Spain. Poor and uneducated Portuguese in the country’s rural interior are especially vulnerable to forced labor networks in Spain, which may extend into Northern and Eastern Europe. Authorities noted an increase in recent years in the number of labor trafficking victims from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. Foreign women and children, mostly from Africa and Eastern Europe, and Portuguese women and children are subjected to sex trafficking within the country. Portuguese victims have also been subjected to sex trafficking in other countries, mostly in Europe. Children from Eastern Europe, including those of Roma descent, are subjected to forced begging and forced criminal activity in Portugal. Authorities report traffickers bring women and children, many from West Africa, to Portugal to claim asylum and obtain false documents before bringing them to other European countries to be exploited in sex trafficking. Portugal is being used as a new route into the Schengen area by Sub-Saharan African criminal networks trafficking children for both sexual exploitation and forced labor.