The government increased protection efforts. The government identified and referred 13 trafficking victims to care (five in 2015 and eight in 2014). The 13 victims included one male child, three male adults, and seven female adults exploited for labor trafficking, and two female adults exploited for sex trafficking. The victims originated from Venezuela, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, India, and Nepal. Some experts asserted labor and internal trafficking cases, including of children, were under-reported.
The government trained all new immigration officers on the anti-trafficking law and screening procedures to identify potential trafficking victims. The government trained school officials, social workers, labor inspectors, and officials who worked with child protective services on identification and screening techniques related to trafficking. The CTU, via Interpol, provided sensitization training to judges to avoid re-traumatization of trafficking victims during court proceedings. Authorities referred all suspected adult human trafficking cases to the CTU. Authorities referred child victims through the child protective services agency. The CTU and child protective services reported working to clarify the procedures for referrals between their agencies.
The CTU spent approximately 700,000 TTD ($104,634) on victim care and protection, a decrease from one million TTD ($149,477) in 2015 and 2014. The government separately provided additional funding to NGOs through the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Gender; the CTU directly provided assistance to victims housed at all shelters. The CTU partnered with NGOs and public hospitals to provide basic services to all 13 victims. Other government-funded victim services provided to victims included food, clothing, medical assistance and services for victims with disabilities, translation services, psychological counseling, legal services, and arranging contact with families. Domestic violence shelters received modest government funding and provided accommodation to adult female trafficking victims. In the case of men and children, the government provided accommodations by securing private safe houses through NGOs; there is no dedicated shelter for male victims. In 2016, the CTU acquired a property to establish a dedicated shelter for male and female victims. Victims housed in NGO-run shelters were allowed freedom of movement after an initial security assessment by the government; however, victims housed in domestic violence shelters were not permitted to leave unchaperoned or at will. Language translation services were available for counseling sessions and police interviews; however, experts reported shelters did not have bilingual staff or volunteers. In addition, some government officials noted a shortage of interpreters available to assist with foreign national victim testimony. Fourteen victims assisted with criminal investigations during the reporting period. There were no reports the government penalized trafficking victims for crimes committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking; however, some victims may have been penalized due to lack of identification from officials.
The government provided two victims with work and residence permits to remain in the country to assist law enforcement investigations. The government provided witness protection to five sex trafficking victims who chose to participate in the trial process and allowed them to return to their home countries between court hearings. The courts were in the process of acquiring technology to accept video testimony. The government provided minimal support to repatriate victims and relied on an international organization to do so.