DENMARK: Tier 2

The Government of Denmark does not fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. These efforts included adopting a three-year national action plan and producing guidelines for businesses on preventing forced labor. However, these efforts were not serious and sustained compared to the efforts during the previous reporting period. The government initiated only one trafficking investigation during the reporting period, largely due to a reduction in the number of officers responsible for investigating human trafficking crimes. Additionally, courts convicted only one trafficker, the lowest number in more than a decade. The government continued to focus on the undocumented status of some foreign victims rather than screening for indicators of trafficking, often incarcerating them during review of their status. Furthermore, lack of incentives for victims to cooperate in investigations, such as residence permits, inhibited successful prosecutions and left victims vulnerable to re-trafficking and reluctant to come forward and work with police. Therefore Denmark was downgraded to Tier 2.

PRIORITIZED RECOMMENDATIONS

Vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking cases under the trafficking statute and sentence convicted traffickers to significant prison terms. • Increase the number of police officers investigating trafficking crimes. • Increase incentives for all victims to cooperate in the prosecution of traffickers, including by permitting temporary residency for victims while they assist law enforcement. • Strengthen and streamline victim identification procedures, including by expanding law enforcement efforts to proactively identify and expeditiously transfer potential trafficking victims, especially those without legal status, from police or immigration custody to crisis centers or care providers to facilitate trust among this vulnerable group. • Allow victims receiving assistance to seek employment or temporary work.

PROSECUTION

The government decreased law enforcement efforts. Section 262(a) of the criminal code criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed punishments of up to eight years’ imprisonment; these penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Since 2016, the government reassigned a large number of police units to counterterrorism, gang violence, and border security duties, shifting police attention away from trafficking and reducing the number of officers available to conduct investigations. Additionally, in 2018, the head of the police’s anti-trafficking unit resigned due to the lack of resources; subsequently, the police folded the unit into the homicide division. Furthermore, police adopted a reactive approach to investigations and were more likely to investigate and charge suspected traffickers for crimes other than trafficking, such as pimping. As a result, during the reporting period, authorities investigated one trafficking case, a decrease from four in 2017, 25 in 2016, and three in 2015. Officials prosecuted three trafficking suspects, compared with two in 2017, three in 2016, and 58 in 2015. Courts convicted one trafficker in 2018, the lowest number of convictions in more than a decade (nine in 2017, 17 in 2016, 12 in 2015), and imposed a sentence of seven years’ imprisonment. Experts reported authorities prosecuted limited trafficking cases because of the lack of incentives for victims to cooperate in investigations, escalating a sense of pessimism among police and NGOs about the likelihood of successful prosecutions. Additionally, experts criticized authorities’ deficiency to prosecute and convict labor traffickers over the years, despite the significant number of identified victims. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in trafficking offenses. The government’s Center against Human Trafficking (CMM) provided police with instructions on trafficking at the police academy and additional training for police who became investigators. CMM also provided guidelines to defense lawyers representing trafficking victims.

PROTECTION

The government decreased protection efforts. Authorities identified 97 trafficking victims in 2018, compared with 98 in 2017. Of these victims, 61 were male, 35 were female, and one identified as transgender. Ten of the identified victims were minors (three in 2017). There were no Danish victims identified, compared with one in 2017. Experts noted authorities identified most victims via periodic police raids, and the trend toward online advertisement of prostitution made identifying sex trafficking victims more difficult. Government guidelines for identifying victims required the involvement of multiple government and law enforcement agencies, requiring several interviews of victims who were kept in detention before referral to NGOs, who stated victim identification methods were convoluted and involved them too late in the process. The government provided a list of indicators for police to reference for initial identification and procedures to guide officials in proactive victim identification. Guidelines required police to call CMM if a suspected victim was in custody. CMM was responsible for formal identification of victims of Danish or EU origin or who were documented migrants, and immigration services were responsible for formal identification of undocumented migrant victims following an initial CMM interview. Officials had the authority to detain potential victims for 72 hours and could extend this period when they needed more time to determine victim status or immigration status, or to identify traffickers. NGOs contended the current laws and political climate encouraged police officers to focus their efforts on addressing migration issues, thus primarily treating victims as undocumented immigrants subject to the justice system. NGOs also contended the onus of victim identification remained on victims rather than officials’ proactive identification, and highlighted that many victims came from communities that distrust law enforcement, making them unlikely to self-identify. Additionally, experts expressed concern over the lack of incentives, such as residence permits, for victims to cooperate in investigations.

CMM offered assistance to all victims, including information on undocumented victims’ options for voluntary return, asylum, or humanitarian residence. In 2018, 89 victims accepted support and entered care facilities (88 in 2017). Government-operated and government-funded NGO facilities provided trafficking victims medical and psychological care, shelter, and financial, legal, and reintegration assistance, regardless of gender, disability, origin, or immigration status. Although these trafficking-specific services existed, authorities sometimes housed victims with asylum-seekers and refugees. Victims receiving assistance could not seek employment, but they could apply for compensation through a state fund and through civil suits against their traffickers. The government did not report if victims pursued these in 2018. The Danish Red Cross assisted unaccompanied children and child victims in another facility partially funded by the government and screened all unaccompanied minors in asylum centers for trafficking indicators. Danish Red Cross personnel expressed concern over the growing number of Moroccan boys living in asylum centers forced into petty criminality and the government’s lack of response to this development, as well as the overall treatment of children in asylum centers.

The government provided undocumented trafficking victims a 30-day “extended time limit for departure” (with extension up to 120 days) as part of its prepared return program for trafficking victims ordered to leave Denmark. Regional anti-trafficking experts, including the Council of Europe, emphasized this period did not refer to a period of reflection and recovery necessary to determine whether victims would cooperate in the investigation of their cases; rather it was a period of time the victims had to cooperate in their repatriation. The government provided those who accepted the prepared return with up to six months temporary residency and training to prevent re-trafficking. Some victims chose not to participate in the program, reportedly based on the perception it was merely a preparation for deportation. Additionally, traffickers’ debt-based coercion and victims’ lack of protection in their home countries served as significant deterrents from accepting the prepared return. In 2018, the government did not report the number of trafficking victims who accepted a prepared return (13 in 2017, 12 in 2016). Regardless of whether foreign victims accepted the prepared return, the government provided 50,000 kroner ($7,670) to victims at deportation. Authorities deported undocumented victims who did not accept a prepared return unless they were assisting in the prosecution of a trafficker. The government did not report granting asylum residence permits to victims in 2018 (one in 2017). NGOs reported the threat of deportation prevented victims from coming forward and led some identified victims to leave shelters before the conclusion of police investigations or court proceedings in order to evade deportation.

PREVENTION

The government maintained prevention efforts. Government officials adopted a 2019-2021 national action plan. In addition to the 9.4 million kroner ($1.44 million) allocated in 2016 to counter-trafficking efforts through 2020, the government allocated 64 million kroner ($9.82 million) to trafficking programs for the new action plan—a 30 percent decrease from the previous action plan’s 88.3 million kroner ($13.55 million) budget. NGOs criticized government officials for misallocating funding in favor of prevention efforts, such as extravagant social media awareness campaigns, rather than prosecution or protection efforts. While the new plan allocated 500,000 kroner ($76,720) for shelters, CMM received 1.3 million kroner ($199,480) for a social media campaign on detecting signs of trafficking. CMM assessed the trend for sex trafficking shifted from the streets to the internet; thus the government provided 2.4 million kroner ($368,270) to an NGO to research escort services, develop methods to identify victims, and create new awareness and outreach campaigns. NGOs also criticized the government’s push to decentralize government functions and spread offices around the country, which negatively affected anti-trafficking efforts. The Ministry for Gender Equality allocated 3.9 million kroner ($598,430) for a three-year, Danish trade union project, focusing on developing outreach work among workers vulnerable to forced labor. CMM produced guidelines for businesses on preventing forced labor. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to its diplomatic personnel. CMM operated a hotline for reporting trafficking cases in Danish and English; in 2018, the hotline received 277 calls.

TRAFFICKING PROFILE

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Denmark, and traffickers, to a lesser extent, exploit victims from Denmark abroad. Traffickers subject men, women, and children from Eastern Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America to forced labor and sex trafficking in Denmark. For the first time since 2007, Nigerians did not represent the majority of identified victims (Filipinos were the most prevalent nationality), and victims of forced labor outnumbered victims of sex trafficking. Traffickers subject migrants, especially Filipino men, to labor trafficking in trucking, construction, agriculture, domestic service, restaurants, hotels, and factories through debt-based coercion, withheld wages, abuse, and threats of deportation. Traffickers exploit unaccompanied migrant children, particularly Moroccan boys, in sex trafficking and forced labor, including drug trafficking, theft, and other forms of forced criminality. Copenhagen’s relatively small red-light district represents only a portion of prostitution in the country, which includes sex trafficking in brothels, bars, strip clubs, and private apartments. Additionally, NGOs report a trend toward prostitution advertised online rather than on the street. The rise in migrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees entering and transiting Denmark increased the size of the population vulnerable to human trafficking. While more recently the number of asylum-seekers and refugees declined, the number of victims from Romania, Thailand, Nigeria, and other African countries remain high.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future