The government maintained protection measures. Law enforcement identified 155 potential trafficking victims during the reporting period (compared with 144 in 2016), of which 21 joined the nationwide witness and victim protection program. The National Intervention-Consultation Center for Victims of Trafficking (KCIK) provided assistance to 169 potential victims, including 10 minors, in 2017, compared with 200 in 2016 and 229 in 2015. Of these potential victims, 74 were for forced labor; 50 sexual exploitation and abuse; 25 violation of workers’ rights; four forced begging; four inhumane or degrading treatment; three domestic violence; three combined sexual exploitation and forced labor; two domestic slavery and violence; one sexual exploitation and violence; one domestic slavery, sexual exploitation and forced labor; one forced marriage; and one forced labor and slavery-like conditions. KCIK offered victims medical and psychological care, legal counseling, shelter referrals, and welfare support. KCIK included two shelters for adult female victims and one shelter for male victims that opened in the reporting period. The shelters housed a combined total of 46 victims in the reporting period. KCIK arranged accommodations for an additional 61 victims, using crisis centers, hotels, and hostels for this purpose. Victims also could receive comprehensive assistance (social, medical, psychological, and legal) in 17 crisis intervention centers operated and funded by local governments, where staff were trained in assisting trafficking victims. The government did not report the number of trafficking victims served by these non-specialized centers. In addition to KCIK services, all foreign victims from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) formally identified by law enforcement were entitled to social welfare benefits, including crisis intervention assistance, shelter, meals, necessary clothing, and financial assistance; 11 non-EEA national victims received assistance through the welfare system during the first six months of 2017. EEA victims had access to the full scope of welfare benefits offered to Polish citizens. Non-EEA national victims had access to services to normalize their presence in Poland. The government did not have facilities available to provide specialized care to child victims, who typically were placed in orphanages or with foster families. Observers reported orphanages often were not well prepared to assist child victims of trafficking. In 2017, law enforcement did not refer any child victims to the national referral program. The border guard had a formal procedure for screening unaccompanied children for trafficking, but NGOs and academics reported there was no clear system of assistance to meet the needs of unaccompanied children.
In 2017, the government allocated 1.1 million zloty ($315,820) to two NGOs that run KCIK, which covered the majority of operating expenses; this was the same amount allocated in 2016 and 2015. The government allocated 79,800 zloty ($22,910) to train welfare assistance personnel on assisting trafficking victims and witnesses, compared with 78,000 zloty ($22,390) in 2016.
The government’s witness protection program provided foreign victims with a temporary residence permit, medical and psychological care, legal assistance, and shelter for those who cooperated with a prosecution; this program also provided for a victim’s repatriation. The government enrolled 21 trafficking victims into this program in 2017, compared with 39 in 2016 and 38 in 2015; from 2012 to 2014, the government enrolled at least 56 victims each year. Foreign victims were entitled to a three-month reflection period, during which they could stay legally in Poland to decide whether to assist in the criminal process; 12 victims used this reflection period in 2016 (23 in 2016 and 33 in 2015). Foreign victims were eligible for a residency permit valid for up to three years and were entitled to work; victims could also apply for permanent residency and were protected against deportation. Foreign victims were eligible for repatriation and may receive assistance upon return to their country of origin; the assistance did not depend on cooperation with law enforcement. In 2017, the government, in cooperation with an international organization, assisted four trafficking victims to return to their home countries (seven in 2016). In 2017, 35 foreign victims who joined the witness protection program agreed to participate in the prosecution of their traffickers (23 in 2016 and 27 in 2015). Polish law permitted victims to provide testimony via video or written statements; however, in cases where victims left Poland, judges often requested additional testimony that resulted in a longer and more complicated legal process. Media reports indicated North Korean laborers in the country were highly vulnerable to forced labor and showed indicators of trafficking. One ongoing prosecutorial investigation involved suspected forced labor of 107 North Korean potential victims in the agricultural sector with trafficking indicators, such as workers paying money to middlemen in advance to obtain employment. None of the workers were referred to services. The labor inspectorate inspected all companies employing North Korean workers, but did not report finding actionable evidence to justify recommending formal law enforcement investigations. Officials acknowledged inspections usually were confined to paperwork and investigators typically relied on translators provided by employers. Victims could file civil suits against traffickers, prosecutors could request restitution, and judges could order compensation for victims in criminal cases. Prosecutors rarely requested compensation. No victims received court ordered restitution in criminal cases in 2016 or 2017.