The government maintained victim protection efforts; however, it did not provide funding to NGOs for victim support services. Authorities identified 212 victims (82 of sex trafficking and 130 of forced labor and forced begging in 2017, compared with 196 victims in 2016 (82 of sex trafficking and 114 of labor trafficking and forced begging); 60 of these new victims were children. NGOs identified an additional 30 victims. Despite implementation of the referral mechanism, authorities continued to contend with the ongoing effects of the European migration crisis. The migration agency’s anti-trafficking coordinator identified 444 suspected trafficking victims among asylum-seekers in 2017 (107 were children), a 30 percent increase from 2016. Although the migration agency identified more potential victims, the high volume of asylum-seekers entering the country inhibited authorities’ ability to conduct sufficient screenings for trafficking indicators. Authorities provided training on victim identification to new migration agency staff and police.
Municipalities, in collaboration with NGOs and other government agencies, provided victim services, including medical and psychological care, shelter, and social assistance. In the absence of a national action plan, the government did not allocate funding to NGOs for victim support services. In 2016, however, the government provided 500,000 kronor ($61,030) to a civil society platform representing 23 NGOs that provided care to victims. Some municipalities ran shelters specifically for trafficking victims. The national coordinator led a network of approximately 40 NGO-run safe houses, and adult female trafficking victims could receive services at women’s shelters for victims of domestic and honor-related violence. Shelters assisted non-Swedish victims with immigration issues, medical care, and educational and employment needs, including Swedish language training. The government trained professionals at safe houses and victim support centers. Authorities referred child victims to social services officials, who placed child victims in foster care or group housing.
The government encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their alleged traffickers. The Aliens Act entitled victims to a 30-day reflection period to contemplate cooperation with law enforcement, during which they were eligible for emergency financial aid; however, only an investigating police officer or prosecutor could file the application, limiting availability to victims already in contact with law enforcement. Victims and witnesses in trafficking cases who cooperated with authorities received temporary residence permits, which allowed them to seek employment. Thirteen trafficking victims and 47 witnesses received permits in 2017 (25 and 45, respectively, in 2016). Although only victims who assisted in investigations were eligible for residence permits, the government provided medical care and repatriation assistance for victims not assisting law enforcement. In 2017, the government repatriated 40 victims through a safe return program in conjunction with an international organization. Prosecutors had the power to file applications for permanent residence permits on behalf of victims based on protection needs, such as in cases in which victims would face retribution in their countries of origin; the government did not issue any permanent residence permits in 2016 or 2017. There were no reports the government penalized victims for acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking. In past years, however, GRETA referenced reports of authorities deporting irregular migrants who had been subjected to trafficking without identifying them as potential victims, despite the presence of trafficking indicators.