The government maintained protection efforts. Authorities identified 58 victims in 2018 (60 in 2017); three were minors (eight in 2017). Government-funded NGOs supported 239 trafficking victims and at-risk individuals (219 in 2017). The central government allocated NGOs €165,000 ($189,220) for victim assistance programs, compared with €115,000 ($131,880) in 2017; local governments allotted €48,000 ($55,050) to support trafficking victims. The government assisted 19 Lithuanian trafficking victims exploited overseas in obtaining legal documents, providing consultations, and coordinating with local NGOs for additional aid. While authorities implemented formal victim identification and referral mechanisms for victim assistance, observers reported authorities in some parts of the country underutilized both. Observers also continued to report local officials’ tendency to blame trafficking victims, especially in rural areas.
Authorities continued to place child victims in mixed-use shelters, as there were no shelters specifically for child trafficking victims. According to NGOs, child protective services lacked knowledge in recognizing indicators of child trafficking, especially in rural areas. Child sexual abuse victims, including trafficking victims, could seek assistance in the government-operated national support center in Vilnius. Five publicly funded men’s crisis centers had the capacity to provide support to trafficking victims, including finding shelter; government-funded NGOs assisted 128 male victims. Law enforcement’s shortcomings in adequately protecting victims during the investigation and the trial process contributed to victims’ reluctance to assist cases. In particular, traffickers threatened victims as they were entering or exiting the courtroom and victims’ lacked access to mental health professionals during or after their interrogations by law enforcement. Legislation allowed foreign trafficking victims a 30-day reflection period to decide whether to cooperate with law enforcement; foreign victims cooperating with law enforcement could receive temporary residency. Authorities identified no foreign victims in 2018 and 20 in 2017. While the government provided legal representation to victims, observers reported attorneys had little experience with trafficking issues; as a result, NGOs often hired private attorneys for victims. In 2018, 19 victims received approximately €70,000 ($80,280) in compensation; in 2017, 13 victims received approximately €34,000 ($38,990) in compensation.