The government identified and provided protection services to fewer trafficking victims, and authorities continued to punish victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit. In 2019, the government identified nine trafficking victims, which represented a significant decrease from the 40 identified victims in 2018. Despite this decrease, the government continued to utilize formal written procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims, and it continued to receive referrals of potential victims from NGOs, international organizations, and police stations across the country. Although the CTU was headquartered in Amman, it used specialized liaison officers in police stations across the country to identify trafficking victims outside of the capital. The government continued to utilize a national victim referral mechanism—formally instituted in March 2019—to refer identified victims to care, including an NGO-run shelter, and cases to the CTU for investigation. Nevertheless, the government and civil society organizations reported labor inspectors, regular police officers outside of the CTU, and detention center officials lacked the specialized training to proactively identify and refer victims to protection services. To address this gap, the CTU increased the number of government-funded training sessions for law enforcement personnel and victim advocates.
MOSD continued to operate and fund a shelter dedicated to protecting trafficking victims, which provided psycho-social care, medical treatment, legal assistance, vocational training, and specialized services for children. It also continued to offer computer classes, a book club, and religious services for both Muslim and Christian shelter residents. The shelter’s staff included lawyers and specialists in psychology, social work, nursing, and education. The provision of shelter services was not conditional upon a victim’s cooperation with law enforcement or judicial authorities. Victims could freely and willingly leave the shelter and were allowed to stay at the shelter for as long as two months. The shelter had the capacity to serve a total of 40 victims, both Jordanian citizens and foreign nationals, with space for 27 women, three children, and 10 men. The shelter had a separate wing and entrance for male victims, and it was the only shelter in the country available to men; however, the MOSD did not report if any male victims received services at the shelter during the reporting period. In 2019, the shelter served a total of 35 victims, which represented a significant decrease from the 153 victims it served in 2018. The MOSD classified 75 percent of those in the shelter as forced labor victims, six percent were victims of sexual exploitation, and three percent were victims of other crimes; victims were primarily from Bangladesh, Ghana, and Uganda. Shelter staff continued to cooperate with the embassies of Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka to provide assistance to their nationals during the reporting period. The government encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers; foreign victims also had the option to provide a deposition prior to being repatriated. However, victims were not able to file civil suits against their traffickers for compensation. The government provided foreign victims with legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they faced retribution or hardship.
Authorities continued to punish some foreign trafficking victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit—such as immigration violations—including fines, arrest, detention, and deportation if found without valid residence documents. Jordan’s sponsorship system continued to prevent foreign workers from switching employers (without a letter of release from their sponsor) or receiving adequate access to legal recourse in response to abuse. Migrant workers, including potential trafficking victims, who left their place of employment prior to fulfilling their work contract, were considered illegal residents and subjected to fines and detention for their irregular presence in the country; loss of legal status also created greater vulnerabilities to trafficking. Furthermore, bureaucratic and financial barriers and detention prevented some victims from repatriation, even if a worker left an employer because it was an exploitative situation. Some foreign workers remained in Jordanian detention, due to pending criminal charges against them or their inability to pay overstay penalties or plane fare home. NGOs reported foreign labor trafficking victims were less likely to report abuses to the authorities due to fear of deportation or detention. Trafficking victims who opted to remain in Jordan for work were required to pay their overstay and lapsed labor permit fines before applying for a new work permit, which was a significant financial burden for victims. During the reporting period, legal experts reported authorities arrested domestic workers—some of whom might have been trafficking victims—for not having travel documents, and authorities ultimately deported some trafficking victims who received assistance at the government-run shelter. However, during the reporting period, some foreign embassies reported they negotiated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to release their citizens from detention for their repatriation. Additionally, in January 2020, MOL inspectors arrested and deported 105 migrant workers for labor law violations, including working without valid permits or in unauthorized occupations. Most of those arrested were Syrian nationals—a population highly vulnerable to trafficking—but the MOL made no reported efforts to screen for trafficking among those it arrested.