The government maintained protection efforts. The government began creating a comprehensive statistical system, per a recommendation from GRETA, on trafficking statistics including victim identification and assistance data. As a result, the government did not report the number of victims it identified or assisted in 2017 or 2018, whereas it identified and assisted 262 victims in 2016. The government provided assistance through municipal crisis centers and government-funded NGOs, including Re-establishment, Organizing safe places to stay, Security, Assistance (ROSA), the largest project exclusively assisting trafficking victims. These NGOs provided foreign and domestic victims with shelter, legal aid, stipends for food, psychological care, medical assistance, fitness facilities, and Norwegian language classes. In 2018, 77 potential victims contacted ROSA and 35 ultimately accepted shelter (118 and 45, respectively, in 2017). ROSA received 30 victim referrals from government agencies, compared with 38 referrals in 2017. Parliament earmarked 30 million kroner ($3.46 million) in grant schemes to NGOs, specifically for measures to support victims and prevent trafficking, compared with 20 million kroner ($2.3 million) in 2017. ROSA received 2.9 million kroner ($334,100) in government funding, the same as in 2017. Another NGO assisted sex trafficking victims who had received a reflection period with vocational programs and sponsored internships. Parliament earmarked five million kroner ($576,040) to the Directorate for Children, Youth, and Family Affairs to establish a coordinating unit for service and assistance to child trafficking victims. Municipal child welfare services provided assistance, including accommodation in an orphanage or foster home, to eight potential child victims. Foreign victims had the same access to care as domestic victims.
The government had neither formal identification procedures nor a NRM, although authorities utilized informal guidelines to identify and refer potential victims. During the reporting period, the government continued to develop a NRM. NGOs had limited engagement with the government in that process; GRETA’s recent report recommended the government give NGOs a larger role in decisions concerning victims of trafficking. Experts expressed concern the government would assign the NRM and identification procedures to the Labor and Welfare Administration Agency, an agency with minimal experience and knowledge on dealing with victims and trafficking trends in general. Experts also expressed concern the proposed NRM would reduce the reflection period for victims from six months to 45 days, which could result in fewer victims assisting authorities in investigations and authorities deporting more victims while they were still recovering from their abuse. Authorities granted a six-month reflection period to 13 victims and limited residence permits of up to 12 months to 11 victims, compared with eight and 15, respectively, in 2017. The law required victims to file a formal complaint to police and assist authorities in investigations in order to be eligible for the limited residence permits. Authorities granted two possible victims residence permits due to compelling humanitarian considerations (seven in 2017). Experts reported the government continued to issue fewer residence permits to victims on the basis of trafficking, which hindered the ability to fully understand the scale of trafficking in the country. Observers raised concerns over the lack of communication between police and immigration authorities, resulting in the deportation of victims who may have merited temporary residency or whose country of origin were conflict-ridden or left victims susceptible to threats of violence. GRETA also raised concerns that amendments to asylum law, particularly the shortened deadline for asylum-seekers to appeal a rejected application from three weeks to one week, risked limiting the possibilities for identifying victims of trafficking among asylum-seekers. Additionally, the continued closure of the Storskog border crossing with Russia to anyone seeking protection prevented the screening for victims of trafficking along the northern border. Forced labor victims who were material witnesses against a former employer could obtain other employment while awaiting trial and were eligible to leave the country before trial proceedings.