The government increased victim protection efforts. DGMM identified 193 victims (134 victims in 2018); 134 were victims of sex trafficking, 35 of labor trafficking, 16 of forced captivity, four of forced begging, three of domestic servitude, and one of child soldiering (95 were victims of sex trafficking and 39 of forced labor in 2018); 173 were female and 20 were male (111 were female and 23 were male in 2018); 20 were children (15 were children in 2018); 191 were foreign victims and two were Turkish nationals (all were foreign victims in 2018). Standard operating procedures provided guidelines for identifying and referring victims to assistance and required first responders to refer potential victims to DGMM, which officially recognized victims. DGMM maintained two identification experts in each of the 81 provincial offices to interview victims; DGMM interviewed approximately 4,500 potential victims (3,612 in 2018). While in previous years, DGMM’s ability to identify victims varied among provinces, and some staff were reluctant to act on cases referred by civil society, an international organization reported improved efforts by DGMM to accurately identify victims and refer them to assistance. The government operated 134 mobile teams for street children in all 81 provinces that conducted outreach work, and the Ministry of Family, Labor, and Social Services (MOFLSS) continued to deploy specialized staff to government-operated migrant and refugee temporary accommodation centers to screen camp residents for indicators of trafficking. However, observers and the government reported the government faced limitations in identifying victims in highly vulnerable refugee and migrant communities outside of camps and had difficulty offering protection resources to address trafficking in these communities. Observers reported the need for improved training for first responders and proactive identification efforts, particularly for forced labor, Turkish nationals, and persons in the LGBTI community. Police reported difficulties in identifying sex trafficking victims due to victims’ fear of deportation, and labor inspectors and asylum officers did not receive training or guidance on victim identification. Additionally, media and civil society reports indicated a small number of forced removals to Syria without screening for indicators of trafficking.
The law entitled officially identified trafficking victims to services, including shelter, medical and psycho-social services, work options, education, translation services, temporary residency, repatriation assistance, financial assistance, vocational training, and legal counseling. The government provided shelter to 43 victims (134 in 2018). The government did not report the total amount allocated for anti-trafficking efforts, compared with 1.05 million Lira ($176,710) in 2018. The government allocated 878,000 Lira ($147,760) to international NGOs working on trafficking-related projects, compared with 4.75 million Lira ($799,390) in 2018; it did not provide funding to domestic NGOs. The government also spent approximately 100,000 Lira ($16,830) for financial assistance to victims in specialized shelters. DGMM operated two specialized shelters for victims of trafficking, one in Kirikkale and a second in Ankara, with the capacity to accommodate 40 victims. The DGMM was also in the process of opening a larger specialized facility. In addition to the specialized shelters, the MOFLSS operated more than 100 shelters which provided accommodation for victims of violence, including men and children, and 32 locally administered shelters offered general support services to trafficking victims. The DGMM-run shelters and MOFLSS-run shelters required victims to have an escort to leave the shelter during their initial stay but allowed victims to leave the shelter voluntarily once security officials completed an assessment and deemed conditions safe. Government-operated Monitoring Centers for Children provided support to child victims of violence, including trafficking. However, GRETA reported “serious concerns” about the limited capacity of specialized shelters to accommodate victims and the lack of specialized assistance. The government cooperated with international organizations and NGOs to provide training. In previous years, experts and civil society actors expressed similar concern that the government’s victim protection efforts precluded funding of independent organizations and the government’s exclusion of some NGOs from identifying and providing services to victims.
The government inadequately identified victims, which later resulted in penalizing victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit. For example, observers reported authorities arrested, detained, and deported sex trafficking victims and charged potential victims with indicators of trafficking with offenses related to lacking valid documents. The government did not provide guidance on non-penalization of victims to law enforcement authorities. The law entitled identified victims to a temporary residence permit for 30 days, which authorities could extend up to three years with the option to apply for a work permit; the government issued 98 permits (82 in 2018). DGMM voluntarily repatriated 86 victims with support from an international organization (52 in 2018). Judges and prosecutors reported procedural law does not allow victim statements prior to repatriation as evidence in court proceedings. The law provided witness protection and legal aid, but observers reported that limited opportunities to encourage victim cooperation in prosecutions with victim-centered approaches, protection measures, and legal assistance resulted in a high number of acquittals and downgraded cases. The government did not report how many victims participated in criminal investigations or legal procedures. The government maintained judicial interview rooms, which allowed victims to testify in private to reduce re-traumatization. The government also operated a directorate to support victims with psychologists and social workers in seven pilot court houses.