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PORTUGAL: Tier 1

The Government of Portugal fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period; therefore Portugal remained on Tier 1. These efforts included opening a new government-funded trafficking shelter for male victims and investigating and arresting an allegedly complicit official. The government also increased cooperation and information sharing with an international organization. Although the government meets the minimum standards, it significantly decreased investigations, convictions, and overall victim identification. The government did not identify any confirmed sex trafficking or Portuguese victims, and it did not report awarding any restitution to victims.

PRIORITIZED RECOMMENDATIONS:

Increase efforts to identify and protect all victims, especially of victims of sex trafficking.Vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, and sentence those convicted to significant prison terms.Enact a legal provision to protect victims from prosecution for acts that traffickers coerced them to commit.Increase victims’ access to restitution and train police, prosecutors, and magistrates on victims’ right to restitution.Allow formal victim identification and referral from entities other than the police, including civil society, social workers, and healthcare professionals.Continue to increase and document the use of victim services, such as shelters and residence permits.Implement strong regulations and oversight of labor recruitment companies that are consistently enforced by investigating and prosecuting labor trafficking, including fraudulent labor recruitment.Allocate sufficient resources and capacity for labor inspectors to detect labor trafficking.Increase victim identification training within the health care sector.Develop an expedited process for granting residency permits to victims.

PROSECUTION

The government decreased law enforcement efforts. Article 160 of the penal code criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of three to 10 years’ imprisonment, which were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape. Some child sex trafficking offenses could also be prosecuted under Article 175, which addressed pimping crimes; it prescribed penalties of one to 10 years’ imprisonment. Article 159 prohibited slavery and prescribed penalties of five to 15 years’ imprisonment.

In 2019, the government initiated 63 trafficking investigations, a significant decrease compared with 114 in 2018 and 103 in 2017. Seventeen investigations were for sex trafficking and 46 were for labor trafficking, while 43 cases remained ongoing from prior years (eight for sex trafficking and 35 for labor trafficking). In one notable sex trafficking case, seven Romanian men were arrested for allegedly exploiting 10 Romanian women in sex trafficking. The majority of suspected labor traffickers were Romanian nationals who targeted workers from Moldova for forced labor in the agricultural sector. Authorities prosecuted 58 defendants in 2019 compared with 55 in 2018. In one case, four alleged traffickers used a religious organization to recruit young female victims and later exploit them in forced labor. In 2019, the government reported convicting three traffickers — a significant decrease in convictions compared with 25 in 2018 (17 sex trafficking and eight forced labor). In 2019, authorities convicted a Portuguese couple for the sex trafficking of Brazilian women and sentenced them to 14 and 15 years’ imprisonment, as well as a Nigerian trafficker whom courts sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. In 2018, sentences exceeded five years’ imprisonment in 20 of the 25 convictions, as well as five suspended sentences. In December 2019, Portuguese authorities arrested and indicted a Portuguese consular officer on several charges, including human trafficking; the diplomat allegedly committed the trafficking offense, which involved a Guinean housekeeper, while in Guinea Bissau. In 2019, the judiciary police provided a variety of anti-trafficking training to an unknown number of law enforcement officers (80 senior officials and 120 new inspectors in 2018) and 125 public prosecutors attended anti-trafficking training. The immigration and border service continued to provide institutionalized victim identification training to border officers, and all labor inspectors received human trafficking training, including 45 new inspectors. The government did not report providing training on human trafficking to any magistrates, compared to more than 100 magistrates trained in 2018. Authorities cooperated with Taiwan on one extradition request for a suspected trafficker.

PROTECTION

The government made uneven protection efforts; while overall victim identification decreased and the identification of sex trafficking victims was inadequate, the government opened a new government-funded trafficking shelter for male victims. In 2019, authorities identified 33 presumed victims and 45 confirmed victims, a significant decrease compared with 203 presumed and 49 confirmed victims in 2018. Of the confirmed victims, all were for forced labor; 36 were from Moldova and four were from Pakistan; 15 were female and 30 were male; and one was a child. Unlike in 2018, the government did not identify any confirmed sex trafficking victims, although at least 10 of the presumed victims were sex trafficking victims. No confirmed victims were Portuguese. Presumed victims included eight children, eight Portuguese, and four victims of forced begging. The government referred 57 total victims to shelter services in 2019. The government continued to utilize its national victim identification and referral mechanism, which was widely used and distributed to all front-line officials who had a role in victim identification and referral, including NGOs, social service workers, and healthcare workers. The government’s Observatory on Trafficking in Human Beings (OTSH) continued to distribute checklists to law enforcement, NGOs, health care professionals, labor inspectors, and social workers on identifying victims of forced prostitution, forced labor, and forced begging and criminality. The government continued to provide a victim identification handbook to labor inspectors. Civil society continued to report the health care sector lacked sufficient training on identification for victims of sex trafficking. Upon encountering a potential victim, law enforcement personnel conducted an initial standardized risk assessment and referred individuals deemed vulnerable or at risk to one of five regional multidisciplinary NGO teams to receive specialized shelter and assistance. The multidisciplinary teams included psychologists and social workers. Front-line responders, including police and NGOs, could identify and refer presumed victims to services, but only law enforcement officials could officially “confirm” an individual a victim of trafficking. Police, judges, and prosecutors determine whether to confirm a victim by analyzing evidence and the presence of trafficking indicators. GRETA reported there was no timeline for authorities to confirm official victim status; the process depended on the duration of the related prosecution. Presumed victims received the same access to services as confirmed victims.

The government reported providing €2.3 million ($2.58 million) to shelters and the multidisciplinary regional teams in 2019, with 1.5 million ($1.7 million) earmarked to continue financing these structures through 2022, resulting in €800,000 ($898,880) available for 2019. This compared to €1.5 million ($1.7 million) provided in 2018. Victims and their minor children had the right to shelter, health care, psycho-social, legal, and translation and interpretation services, as well as education and employment training. The government did not report how many victims utilized these services during the reporting period. In 2019, the government opened a new trafficking shelter for male victims, making a total of five government-funded NGO-operated shelters exclusively for trafficking victims—two for adult female victims and their minor children, two for adult male victims, and one for children. Adult victims could leave the shelters at will unless authorities determined victims’ safety was at risk. Child victims received care under Portugal’s child protection system or through its shelter for child trafficking victims, which could accommodate up to six children. A government-funded NGO conducted 140 training sessions on human trafficking to 4,318 professionals in the fields of law enforcement, social work, and healthcare.

During the reporting period, courts permitted some victims to testify by deposition or video conference, but the government did not report whether this protection was extended to any victims during the reporting period. The government offered victims a reflection period of 30 to 60 days, during which they could recover before deciding whether to cooperate with law enforcement. The law also provided for a one-year residence permit for victims based on cooperation with law enforcement or a personal situation regarding their security, health, family situation, or vulnerability; authorities could renew this permit indefinitely. In 2019, the government provided 16 residence permits to labor trafficking victims from five countries. However, civil society reported there were sometimes delays in the issuance of residency permits for victims. In coordination with an international organization, the government repatriated two Romanian labor trafficking victims in 2019. The government did not report if prosecutors requested restitution for any victims in criminal trials during the reporting period. Portuguese law allowed victims to file civil suits against their traffickers, but the government did not report awarding damages to any victims during the reporting period. Victims could seek compensation from the government if the convicted trafficker was unable to pay the awarded damages, but the government did not report providing any compensation to trafficking victims during the reporting period, and GRETA noted this rarely occurred. NGOs reported many victims were unwilling to come forward and cooperate with authorities for fear of prosecution. GRETA reported the lack of a specific provision in Portuguese law protecting victims from prosecution for crimes committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking could leave victims vulnerable to individual prosecutors’ decisions to bring charges.

PREVENTION

The government maintained prevention efforts. The government maintained a multi-stakeholder anti-trafficking network, led by the national rapporteur on trafficking, which included representatives from various central and local government agencies and three NGOs. The government had a national anti-trafficking action plan for 2018-2021, which the Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality monitored and coordinated. OTSH, responsible for the collection and dissemination of trafficking data, published an annual security report detailing the trafficking situation in the country, and in 2019 increased cooperation with an international organization by formally agreeing to share trafficking information. The government made some efforts to raise awareness of human trafficking by holding an unknown number of labor trafficking information sessions and organizing an awareness day for children. The government continued to conduct a corporate social responsibility campaign to address labor exploitation, which targeted Portuguese companies operating inside and outside of Portugal. Temporary employment agencies required a license to operate. However, fraudulent labor recruitment remained a concern during the reporting period. GRETA noted a need to strengthen monitoring and regulation of temporary employment and recruitment agencies, especially those employing and recruiting domestic workers. The government did not report investigating or prosecuting any labor recruitment agencies for fraudulent recruitment or trafficking. While labor inspectors could refer suspected labor trafficking cases to the police, the government did not have a dedicated budget or staff to detect labor trafficking cases. Given significant concerns about forced labor in the Cuban medical missions program, Portugal ended the use of Cuban medical professionals in December 2019. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. Each of the five multidisciplinary NGO teams operated a hotline available in several languages; the hotlines received over 172 calls relating to victim assistance, but the government did not report how many trafficking victims were identified as a result of the calls. As many identified labor trafficking victims identified in Portugal are from Moldova, the government cooperated with authorities in Moldova in 2019 to organize an anti-trafficking workshop in Moldova for the justice sector, law enforcement, prosecution, health, and parliamentary representatives.

TRAFFICKING PROFILE

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Portugal, and traffickers exploit victims from Portugal abroad. The majority of trafficking victims are from Moldova, but victims also originate from Pakistan, West Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, and, to a lesser extent, Latin America. Labor traffickers exploit foreign victims in agriculture, construction, and domestic service; seasonal migrant workers are especially vulnerable. Cubans working in Portugal may have been forced to work by the Cuban government before the Government of Portugal ended the use of Cuban medical professionals. Traffickers often use fraudulent recruitment methods to exploit Portuguese victims in restaurants, agriculture, and domestic service, primarily in Portugal and Spain. Sex traffickers exploit foreign women and children, mostly from Africa and Eastern Europe, and Portuguese women and children within the country. Sex traffickers have exploited Portuguese citizens in other countries, mostly in Europe. Traffickers exploit children from Eastern Europe, including those of Romani descent, for forced begging and forced criminal activity in Portugal. Authorities report traffickers facilitate the transfer of asylum-seeking women and children, many from West Africa, to Portugal; traffickers obtain false documents before moving them to other European countries for sex trafficking. Sub-Saharan trafficking networks increasingly use Portugal as a route into the Schengen area to exploit children for both sex trafficking and forced labor. Traffickers sometimes exploit soccer players in labor trafficking; these victims, including some minors, are often from Brazil.

U.S. Department of State

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