The government increased protection measures. Authorities identified 221 potential victims (162 in 2018) and referred 104 to care facilities (47 in 2018); the government reported all victims were offered services but some chose not to accept them. The National Intervention-Consultation Center for Victims of Trafficking (KCIK) provided assistance to 226 potential victims (168 in 2018); 154 were victims of forced labor, 39 of sex trafficking, three of domestic slavery, two of degrading treatment, two of forced criminality, and 26 of other types of exploitation; 136 were male and 90 were female; 168 were foreign victims; and seven were children (three in 2018). The government maintained SOPs for the identification, referral, and support of trafficking victims, including standardized indicators and specific indicators to identify child victims. However, police and prosecutors acknowledged authorities lacked the expertise to identify forced labor victims and child victims, particularly among unaccompanied children. Labor inspectors did not identify any victims in 2019 and 2018, and noted challenges in determining whether an offense constituted as a violation of workers’ rights or forced labor. Law enforcement used indicators with sample questions focused on freedom of movement but did not take psychological coercion or subtle forms of force into consideration.
KCIK provided adult and minor victims with medical and psychological care, shelter, legal counseling, welfare support, reintegration services, and referrals to orphanages and foster care for child victims. KCIK operated two shelters for adult female victims, a small shelter for men with capacity to accommodate three adult male victims, and rented apartments for victims who did not prefer shelters; the shelters and apartments housed a combined total of 58 victims (38 in 2018). Victims also could receive general assistance (social, medical, psychological, legal) in 170 crisis intervention centers operated and funded by local governments, 20 of which maintained staff trained on assisting trafficking victims; KCIK arranged accommodations for 54 victims using crisis centers and other locations (48 in 2018). In both 2019 and 2018, the government allocated 1.1 million zloty ($290,310) to two NGOs that run KCIK, of which 105,000 zloty ($27,710) went each year to operate a hotline. The government also allocated 80,000 zloty ($21,110) to train welfare assistance personnel on assisting trafficking victims and witnesses, compared with 84,000 zloty ($22,170) in 2018. Funding for victim services remained stagnant for the fifth year following a 10 percent increase in 2015. Experts said limited government funding for victim assistance constrained service provision, particularly outside of Warsaw and Katowice. For example, shelter capacity for male victims was insufficient with the increasing number of male victims of labor trafficking. The government also allocated inadequate resources to specialized care for child victims according to experts, who noted authorities placed child victims in foster families or orphanages unprepared to assist child victims. NGOs and academics reported there was no clear system of assistance to meet the needs of unaccompanied children. All foreign victims from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) formally identified by law enforcement were entitled to social welfare benefits, including crisis intervention assistance, shelter, meals, necessary clothing, and financial assistance; 20 non-EEA national victims received assistance (24 in 2018). Victims from the EEA had access to the full scope of welfare benefits offered to Polish citizens if they could prove habitual residency, but NGOs reported victims from Romania and Bulgaria had problems proving this; the government did not track whether EEA nationals received social welfare assistance.
Government and civil society representatives reported no cases of victims penalized for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit and authorities screened individuals in vulnerable populations when detained and arrested, including individuals in commercial sex and migrants. Foreign victims were entitled to a three-month reflection period, during which they could stay legally in Poland to decide whether to assist in the criminal process; authorities granted 120 victims a three-month reflection period (five in 2018). Foreign victims were eligible for a residency permit valid for up to three years, which entitled them to work, and could apply for permanent residency; the government did not report how many victims received temporary or permanent residency. The government, in cooperation with an international organization, assisted three foreign victims to return to their home countries (two in 2018). Polish law permitted victims to provide testimony via video or written statements; audio-video recording of testimony was obligatory for victims under 15 years of age and for victims of sexual crimes, including sex trafficking. The government reported 208 victims agreed to cooperate in investigations of their traffickers. Experts noted law enforcement and prosecutorial interview techniques lacked a trauma-informed approach, hindering opportunities to build rapport with traumatized victims, who then were unlikely to provide reliable testimony. NGOs reported judges interviewed children and did not receive training on child-friendly, victim-centered, or trauma-informed interviewing techniques, which re-traumatized victims. Prosecutors rarely requested restitution in criminal proceedings but judges ordered traffickers to pay restitution to eight victims. Victims could also receive compensation in civil suits.