The government maintained protection efforts. Police and other government institutions, in cooperation with NGOs, identified and assisted 339 foreign victims in 2018, compared to 327 victims in 2017. Among that total, 28 victims were minors, and 40 victims were not identified by age. The government did not identify any victims of Austrian citizenship. The government provided €960,117 ($1.1 million) to specialized anti-trafficking NGOs to assist and house victims, an increase from €876,000 ($1 million) in 2017. The Ministry of Labor provided an additional €410,000 ($470,180) for support of NGO-run counseling centers for male trafficking victims and undocumented migrants, compared to €415,000 ($475,920) in 2017. Government funding comprised the bulk of support for these organizations. The city of Vienna funded a government-run center for unaccompanied minors, including child trafficking victims, offering legal, medical, psychological, social, and language assistance. Cities throughout the provinces provided services for child victims. For adult victims, government-funded NGOs provided emergency shelter, medical and psychological care, language support, and legal assistance. Some NGOs offered specialized services for victims with physical or mental disabilities. NGOs helped victims prepare for court proceedings and assisted foreign victims with repatriation. Courts provided sensitive interview methods for presenting evidence and testimony when victims needed protection from traffickers during the investigation and prosecution phases.
In November 2018, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) launched Austria’s national referral mechanism for adults, a framework for identifying victims, guaranteeing their rights, and ensuring they understand the availability of services and receive care. The government continued to implement the national referral mechanism for child victims launched in 2017. Government officials from multiple agencies and NGOs used guidelines and checklists to identify both child and adult victims. Under a government-funded program, NGOs trained immigration officials on victim identification, including those working at migrant reception centers. The government continued trainings in victim identification for officials in law enforcement, the labor inspectorate, the military, diplomatic services, detention and asylum centers, revenue agencies, and social service agencies.
Trafficking victims had the right to temporary residence status, with possible annual extensions. The government granted 35 residence permits and extended 10 permits to trafficking victims in 2018. Residence permits allowed victims unconditional access to employment. Government benefits were not dependent upon a victim’s willingness to participate in the prosecution of their perpetrator. Victims also had a 30-day reflection period with assistance to decide whether to assist or cooperate in criminal investigations. The Ministry of Justice reported that 150 victims provided assistance to law enforcement and prosecutors during 2018. Victims could file civil suits against traffickers for damages and compensation, even in the absence of a criminal prosecution. Upon criminal conviction, courts typically awarded restitution, including in six of the eight 2018 trafficking convictions. The government provided legal aid for victims unable to afford their own legal representation. The Ministry of Justice also published guidelines in 2018 for the non-punishment of victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit.