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.