The government maintained protection efforts. Police identified 30 foreign trafficking victims (35 in 2016). These included 24 Ukrainian labor trafficking victims (all from a single case) and six female victims (four Chinese nationals and two Hungarian nationals). The government had standard operating procedures for victim identification that allowed a range of entities to refer victims to the government’s social welfare agency. The national welfare agency offered medical care, employment services, counseling, and additional emergency shelters and staff. This resulted in an increase in the allocation of funds for trafficking cases in 2017. In one large case, the police and national welfare agency joined coordination efforts during a forced labor investigation in order to prepare for a large number of victim referrals. The agency leased additional apartments on a three-year basis to temporarily shelter these victims and to build shelter capacity for future victims. All 30 victims identified in 2017 received care services. While NGOs reported assisting victims who are children, the government has never formally identified a child trafficking victim.
The government encouraged, but did not require victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their alleged traffickers and provided them with protective support, including the option to testify via video, although this was inconsistently offered. Some victims reported challenges in the availability of translators. The law provided victims a two-month reflection period to recover and contemplate cooperation with law enforcement. In 2017, the government established a victim support unit to provide counseling, information, and referral services to victims of all crime, including trafficking. Foreign victims who decided to assist police in prosecuting trafficking cases were entitled to a renewable six-month temporary residence permit, police protection, legal assistance, and the right to work. The government provided these temporary residence permits to the majority of the trafficking victims identified during the calendar year.
NGOs reported a lack of coordination among the police, the national welfare agency, and immigration officials negatively affected victims’ ability to obtain residency and work permits, especially for victims of forced labor. Victims can apply for restitution from the government and file a civil suit against the perpetrators for the restitution of unpaid salaries and other expenses. One civil suit was under judicial consideration during the reporting period. There were no reports the government penalized victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking. Courts, however, have convicted some minors for prostitution in recent years, who may have been unidentified sex trafficking victims. Additionally, migrants who entered the country illegally, some of whom may have been trafficking victims, were routinely held in detention centers. In December 2015, the government issued guidance that limited the circumstances under which irregular migrants could be detained.