The government increased efforts to assist victims, including almost doubling funding for services. Law enforcement identified 41 victims in 2016, compared with 79 in 2015. Authorities identified fewer child victims: from 18 in 2015 to four in 2016. Government-funded NGOs provided support to 179 trafficking victims and at-risk individuals, including 88 male victims of labor trafficking and trafficking for criminal activities; NGOs assisted 139 victims in 2015. The central government allocated NGOs approximately €81,000 ($85,353) for victim assistance programs, compared to approximately €43,000 ($45,311) in 2015. NGOs noted additional funding was necessary to address all needs, such as securing staff salaries and implementing prevention work. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs assisted 11 trafficking victims in obtaining legal documents and providing consultations, and spent €1,360 ($1,433) in repatriation. Six publicly funded men’s crisis centers had the capacity to provide assistance including finding shelter. Authorities placed child victims in foster homes and mixed-use shelters; although, these facilities were not dedicated exclusively to and may not have provided specialized care for child trafficking victims. In June, authorities established a national support center for sexually abused children in Vilnius. The government had a formal procedure to refer identified victims to care facilities for assistance, although it was underutilized in some parts of the country.
Law enforcement could offer foreign trafficking victims a 30-day reflection period to decide whether to cooperate with law enforcement. Foreign victims cooperating with law enforcement could receive temporary residency. Authorities identified one foreign victim in 2016 and one in 2015. The criminal code requires victims to testify. The law permits authorities to use video conferencing and other technologies in the courtroom, which could prevent re-traumatization of trafficking victims, but courts had limited technical capabilities and preferred traditional testimony to video. The government provided legal representation to victims; however, observers reported the attorneys had little experience with trafficking issues. NGOs often hired private attorneys for victims. Prosecutors noted victims continued to be reluctant to testify, specifically male trafficking victims who were also reluctant to receive NGO assistance. NGOs reported this often happened because traffickers threatened victims as they were entering or exiting the courtroom. Experts noted deficiencies in victim protection during the investigation and the trial process. In most cases in 2016, victims received compensation. Observers reported shortcomings in police identification of trafficking among individuals in prostitution; as a result, authorities subjected sex trafficking victims to administrative sanctions for prostitution and some police officers treated child victims trafficked for criminal activities as criminals rather than victims. Experts noted child protective services lacked knowledge in recognizing indicators of child trafficking.