SLOVENIA: Tier 1
The Government of Slovenia fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period; therefore Slovenia remained on Tier 1. The government demonstrated serious and sustained efforts by convicting more traffickers and sentencing them to more severe sentences than in previous years. The government offered training across a broad range of government personnel and identified more victims. Although the government meets the minimum standards, it did not consistently provide proper facilities to assist child victims of trafficking, and it limited availability of one type of restitution only to victims from EU member states.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SLOVENIA
Provide proper systems and designated facilities to assist child victims of trafficking, particularly unaccompanied children, as well as enhanced training of supervisors and foster care parents; increase efforts to facilitate access to restitution for both EU and non-EU citizen victims alike, including from convicted traffickers; expand efforts to identify victims of both sex and labor trafficking among vulnerable populations, including individuals in prostitution, foreign workers, unaccompanied children, children in begging, and persons transiting Slovenia; increase steps to reduce demand for the services of both sex and labor trafficking victims; continue prevention outreach that targets vulnerable populations, such as Roma; vigorously prosecute sex and labor trafficking offenses, and impose on all traffickers sentences that reflect the severity of their crime; establish and maintain a comprehensive publicly available statistical system on measures taken to protect and promote the rights of victims, and including data on investigations, prosecutions, and judicial determinations; increase efforts to provide potential victims with information about rights and access to services in languages they understand; and expand national awareness activities.
The government increased law enforcement efforts. Article 113 of the criminal code criminalized sex and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties ranging from one to 10 years imprisonment, and up to 15 years if the offense involved a minor or if there were aggravating elements. These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In 2017 police conducted five trafficking investigations, the same number as in 2016. The investigations involved 67 criminal acts, 66 victims, and 15 perpetrators. Authorities initiated or continued seven prosecutions of 19 defendants. The government convicted 10 defendants of trafficking in 2017, compared with nine in 2016 and three in 2015. The courts sentenced all 10 to prison terms ranging from six months to eight years. Six of the 10 received sentences of greater than two years, and one received an eight-year sentence. In addition to prison terms, eight of the 10 convicted defendants received fines plus confiscation of property in amounts ranging between €3,500 to €36,000 ($4,200 to $43,220). In one noteworthy case in January 2018, police raided a fraudulent phone bank facility and identified 32 trafficking victims from Taiwan. These victims had been forced to call private individuals in China under false pretenses to gain access to personal bank account information. Prosecutors charged three Slovenian and 12 Chinese defendants under human trafficking statutes. The telephone fraud operation in Slovenia functioned under a broader international network, and Slovenian police worked closely with Croatian police who concurrently disrupted a similar operation in Croatia. Police followed the victim protection referral process and transferred the victims to shelters and care providers. All the victims returned voluntarily to Taiwan in February after recording statements available to the court for use during the trial of the perpetrators. The 2017-2018 National Action Plan mandated training of all government employees with positions that may encounter trafficking issues, and the government continued to conduct specialized training for investigators, prosecutors, judges, border control officials, and police. Each of the eight police districts had at least one officer specialized in trafficking investigations, together operating as a de facto national coordination network.
The government increased victim protection efforts. The government allocated €85,000 ($102,040) for victim protection in 2017, the same level as in 2016 and 2015. The government identified 98 victims—66 adult sex trafficking victims in 2017 (compared to 27 in 2016 and 47 in 2015) and 32 Taiwan labor trafficking victims in 2017. Authorities trained 80 labor inspectors in April 2017 on identifying trafficking indicators and 181 employees of the Ministry of Public Administration on signs of trafficking in work and residency permit applications. The Chamber of Social Workers and the Ministry of Labor together trained 60 social workers serving migrants and potential victims of trafficking. The Financial Administration trained 35 mobile financial inspectors and 52 other employees on spotting transactions with trafficking indicators. The government continued distribution of the Manual for Identification of Victims of Trafficking in Persons, adopted in 2016, to relevant government officials.
The ministries of interior and labor funded two NGOs for crisis and safe housing for victims, supplemented by private donations and support from the Catholic Church. Child victims of trafficking continued to lack adequate assistance, and there were no designated facilities for unaccompanied child trafficking victims, who instead were provided shelter jointly with unaccompanied migrants and received care through the Center for Social Work. The 2018 GRETA report highlighted the concern of unaccompanied child victims disappearing from public care, underscoring the need for suitable accommodation and fully trained supervisors or foster parents. Foreign victims were allowed a 90-day reflection period to reside in Slovenia while recovering and considering whether to participate in an investigation, although they were not authorized for employment during this period. During this period, they were allowed to remain in temporary accommodations based on their temporary residence permit. Foreign victims willing to cooperate in criminal proceedings were allowed to extend their stay by 180 days or longer, depending on the duration of trial proceedings. When participating in pre-trial and criminal proceedings, victims were allowed a temporary residency permit and additional services, including accommodation, translation and interpretation services, and a protective escort. The GRETA report noted a need to improve the process of providing comprehensive information to victims in a language they could easily understand to assess their choices, including participation in programs to resist re-victimization. The government-funded two NGO hotlines offering help to both domestic violence and trafficking victims. Only citizens of EU countries were able to apply for restitution from the state fund for crime victims; other victims could seek restitution through the courts.
The government maintained prevention efforts. The Ministry of Interior’s interdepartmental working group (IWG), led by the National Coordinator for Countering Trafficking in Persons, organized awareness efforts that included producing an annual monitoring report. Slovenia did not have an independent national rapporteur. NGOs participated in the IWG, which met every two months. The IWG allocated approximately €20,000 ($24,010), an amount similar to 2016, for four awareness projects targeting potential trafficking victims, particularly schoolchildren and migrant workers. The government marked the EU Anti-Trafficking Day with media focused on labor trafficking. A government-funded NGO performed a theatrical production before 1,000 elementary students, expected to reach 10,000 students by June 2018. The government communications office remained underfunded, particularly in light of research on new trends in trafficking methods, and the need to expand related awareness. A government website promoted awareness of forced labor and labor exploitation with international research, information on investigations and prosecutions, and a mechanism for contacting NGOs providing assistance to potential victims. Although the website expanded the amount of information available, there was no public data on measures taken to protect and promote the rights of victims. Slovenia was active in regional cooperation, meeting twice yearly with national anti-trafficking coordinators in Western Balkans countries to review new forms of trafficking in the region, share best practices, and consider joint strategies. Slovenian officials assisted Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in drafting national counter-trafficking strategies. They also trained Serbian police on restructuring investigation procedures. The government did not take significant measures during the reporting period to reduce the demand for commercial sex or forced labor.
As reported over the past five years, Slovenia is a destination, transit, and, to a lesser extent, a source country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking and for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and forced begging. Foreign workers and illegal migrants from countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine are among the most vulnerable to labor trafficking, and are exploited in the construction sector, or in forced begging. Sometimes these persons are in transit to Western Europe, particularly Italy, Austria, or Germany, where they experience continued vulnerability to forced labor. Women and children from Slovenia, Eastern European and Western Balkan countries, and the Dominican Republic are subjected to sex trafficking within the country, and many also transit to Western Europe where they may face sexual and labor exploitation. Ethnic Roma are particularly vulnerable to trafficking in Slovenia.