The government increased prosecution efforts. The penal code criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking, prescribing penalties ranging from 12 to 24 years of imprisonment or a fine, which were sufficiently stringent, and with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape.
Observers noted the prosecutors, law enforcement, civil society, and media frequently conflate trafficking in persons and smuggling, hindering overall anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Authorities investigated one case of a construction company allegedly forcing 20 workers to labor on a job site (one investigation each in 2018 and 2017) but did not forward the case for prosecution due to a purported lack of evidence; the government instead fined the construction company for labor exploitation. In 2019, officials reported prosecuting one suspected trafficker for sexually exploiting a victim, compared to no prosecutions in 2018. For the first time in seven years, authorities reported convicting a trafficker in April 2019 under Article 2:239 of the penal code and sentenced the perpetrator to three years’ imprisonment for exploiting a victim in forced labor. Law enforcement officials, including police and immigration personnel, participated in an annual regional training event focused on investigations of trafficking crimes. The government reintroduced an electronic border management system and provided training to an unknown number of officials on human trafficking, smuggling, and identifying fraudulent documents.