The government increased efforts to protect victims; however, some victims remained vulnerable to punishment. The government continued to utilize formal written procedures to guide officials in identifying trafficking victims, and it continued to receive referrals of potential trafficking victims from NGOs, an international organization, and police stations in Amman. In 2017, the anti-trafficking unit identified 75 trafficking victims, which was an increase from the 65 victims the government identified in 2016. The government continued to utilize formal written procedures to refer identified victims to care; however, civil society organizations reported that labor inspectors, police, and detention center officials lacked the specialized training to proactively identify and refer victims to protection services. The PSD continued to work in cooperation with a local NGO to identify and assist victims at police stations and prison rehabilitation centers, as well as to train PSD personnel and assist in the repatriation of victims. Government and NGO officials noted some field officers and inspectors were not well-informed of the SOPs within the existing victim referral mechanism to refer victims to care. To address these deficiencies, the government continued to work with an international organization to develop more detailed victim referral procedures to better guide officials; the revised procedures were pending approval at the end of the reporting period.
The Ministry of Social Development (MOSD) continued to operate and provide assistance to victims at a shelter solely dedicated to protecting trafficking victims, which provided a wide range of services, including psycho-social care, medical treatment, legal assistance, vocational training, and specialized services for children. The shelter’s staff included specialists in psychology, social work, nursing, and education. The facility had the capacity to serve 40 male and female victims, both citizens and foreign nationals, including children, with a separate wing and entrance for male victims; it was the only shelter in the country available for men. The provision of shelter services was not conditional upon a victim’s cooperation with law enforcement or judicial authorities. During the reporting period, shelter staff also coordinated with the MOL to waive fees for victims’ lapsed labor permits and assisted victims to find new employment if they chose to continue working. The government allocated an operating budget for the shelter through 2018; it did not report budgeting information beyond 2018. In 2017, the shelter served a total of 99 trafficking victims, the majority of whom were female victims of forced labor, domestic servitude, or sexual exploitation; this represented an increase from 56 victims assisted at the shelter in 2016. The anti-trafficking unit referred the majority of the victims to the shelter, but NGOs and foreign embassies also referred some victims. The MOSD, through the trafficking shelter, was responsible for coordinating with NGOs and foreign embassies to assist in the repatriation of foreign trafficking victims, but it did not provide such assistance during the reporting period. Other facilities that served female victims of gender-based violence also served potential trafficking victims. Victims were not able to file civil suits against their traffickers for restitution. However, the government encouraged victims to assist in the prosecution of their traffickers by providing legal and reintegration assistance; victims also had the option to provide a deposition prior to being repatriated. The government provided foreign victims with legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they faced retribution or hardship.
Despite the government’s victim identification and protection efforts, some foreign trafficking victims remained vulnerable to financial penalties, arrest, detention, and deportation if found without valid residence documents. Jordan’s sponsorship system prevents foreign workers from switching employers (without a letter of release from their sponsor) or receiving adequate access to legal recourse in response to abuse. Migrant workers, including potential trafficking victims, who left their place of employment prior to fulfilling their work contract, were considered illegal residents and accrued fines for their illegal presence in the country and risked detention. According to an NGO, even if a worker left an employer because it was an exploitative situation, bureaucratic and financial barriers and detention prevented some victims from repatriation. Furthermore, trafficking victims who opted to remain in Jordan for work were required to pay their overstay and lapsed labor permit fines before applying for a new work permit, which was a significant financial burden for victims. Some foreign workers remained in Jordanian detention, due to pending criminal charges against them or their inability to pay overstay penalties or plane fare home. In April 2017, the media reported the government initiated a crackdown on domestic workers who fled their employers—a population highly vulnerable to trafficking—and violated the labor law and residency regulations, which resulted in the arrest and deportation of 11 foreign domestic workers; the government did not report utilizing identification measures to screen for potential trafficking victims during this crackdown.