The government decreased protection efforts. Authorities identified 64 trafficking victims (38 sex trafficking, 17 labor trafficking, five forced criminality, four unknown) in 2019, the lowest number of victims identified since 2011 and a decrease from 97 in 2018 and 98 in 2017. Of these victims, 22 were male, 41 were female, and one identified as transgender. Six of the identified victims were minors (10 in 2018, three in 2017). There were no Danish victims identified. Experts noted the trend toward online advertisement of prostitution made identifying sex trafficking victims more difficult. The government provided a list of indicators for authorities to reference for initial identification and procedures to guide officials in proactive victim identification. According to NGOs, government guidelines for identifying victims were convoluted and involved them too late in the process. Guidelines for identifying victims required the involvement of multiple government and law enforcement agencies, requiring several interviews of victims who at times remained in detention before referral to NGOs. 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 authorities primarily treated victims as undocumented immigrants subject to deportation, especially if victims were previously detained by law enforcement.
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. In 2019, 63 victims accepted support and entered care facilities (89 in 2018). Victims receiving assistance, who did not have legal residency, could not seek employment but they could apply for compensation through a state fund and through civil suits against their traffickers. 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. Observers continued to express concern over unaccompanied minors, particularly Moroccan boys living in asylum centers, being forced into sex trafficking, forced labor, and petty criminality.
In 2019, parliament amended the Aliens Act, allowing the government to grant residence permits to refugees and family members, including trafficking victims, for temporary stay only, and to revoke residence permits if the need for protection no longer existed, unless it contradicted Denmark’s international obligations as it relates to refugees who risk persecution if returned to their home country. The government did not report granting residence permits to victims in 2019. If undocumented victims assisted in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers, the government provided a 30-day extended departure deadline (with extension up to 120 days) as part of its return program for trafficking victims required 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 return with up to six months temporary residency and training to prevent re-trafficking. Some victims chose not to participate in the program, reportedly because 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 return. Authorities deported undocumented victims who did not accept a return unless they were assisting in the prosecution of a trafficker. 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.