The government identified more trafficking victims but provided services to fewer trafficking victims, and authorities continued to punish victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit. In 2020, the government identified 25 trafficking victims, which represented an increase from the nine identified victims in 2019. The government continued to utilize formal written procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims, and it continued to receive referrals of potential victims from NGOs, international organizations, and police stations across the country. Although the CTU was headquartered in Amman, it used specialized liaison officers in police stations across the country to identify trafficking victims outside of the capital. During the reporting period, the CTU established additional liaison officers in Syrian refugee camps. In October 2020, the Ministry of Social Development’s (MOSD) anti-vagrancy department launched a campaign to remove vulnerable children, including forced begging victims, from the streets of Amman. Joint patrols by teams of MOSD social workers, PSD investigators, and female police officers screened children for trafficking indicators and referred potential trafficking victims to MOSD juvenile assistance centers to receive medical assistance and social services including family reintegration efforts.
The government continued to utilize a national victim referral mechanism (NRM) to refer identified victims to care, including shelters run by an NGO and MOSD, and cases to the CTU for investigation. Labor inspectors, regular police officers outside of the CTU, and detention center officials lacked the specialized training to proactively identify and refer victims to protection services; the government reviewed, updated, and trained relevant ministry officials on the updated NRM standard operating procedures during the reporting period. MOSD continued to operate and fund the Dar Karama shelter dedicated to protecting trafficking victims, which provided psycho-social care, medical treatment, legal assistance, vocational training, and specialized services for children. It also continued to offer computer classes, a book club, and religious services for both Muslim and Christian shelter residents. The shelter’s staff included lawyers and specialists in psychology, social work, nursing, and education. The provision of shelter services was not conditional upon a victim’s cooperation with law enforcement or judicial authorities. Victims could freely and willingly leave the shelter and were allowed to stay at the shelter for as long as two months; victims’ stay in the shelter could be extended through a process requiring MOSD approval. The shelter had the capacity to serve a total of 40 victims, both Jordanian citizens and foreign nationals, with space for 27 women, three children, and 10 men. The shelter had a separate wing and entrance for male victims, and it was the only shelter in the country available to men; however, the MOSD did not report any male victims received services at the shelter during the reporting period. In 2020, the shelter served a total of 14 victims, which represented a decrease from the 35 victims it served in 2019. The government referred the other 11 identified victims to an NGO shelter. Of the 14 victims assisted by the Dar Karama shelter, 12 were adult women and two were girls; 10 were forced labor victims and two were sex trafficking victims. Three victims assisted in the shelter were Jordanian and the rest were from Bangladesh, Uganda, Indonesia, and Tunisia. Shelter staff continued to cooperate with the embassies of Bangladesh, Philippines, and Sri Lanka to provide assistance to their nationals during the reporting period. Although the Dar Karama shelter remained open during the pandemic, NGOs reported issues contacting shelter staff and referring victims during the height of pandemic-related lockdowns in April 2020. The government encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers; female officers accompanied female victims to court and officials assigned all victims a lawyer throughout judicial proceedings to ensure protection of their rights. Foreign victims also had the option to provide a deposition prior to being repatriated. However, victims were not able to file civil suits against their traffickers for compensation. The government provided foreign victims with legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they faced retribution or hardship.
Authorities continued to punish some foreign trafficking victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit—such as immigration violations—including fines, arrest, detention, and deportation if found without valid residence documents. Jordan’s sponsorship system continued to prevent foreign workers from switching employers (without a letter of release from their sponsor) or receiving adequate access to legal recourse in response to abuse. Migrant workers, including potential trafficking victims, who left their place of employment prior to fulfilling their work contract, were considered illegal residents and subjected to fines and detention for their irregular presence in the country; loss of legal status created greater vulnerabilities to trafficking. Furthermore, bureaucratic and financial barriers and detention prevented some victims from repatriation, even if a worker left an employer because it was an exploitative situation. Some foreign workers remained in Jordanian detention due to pending criminal charges against them or their inability to pay overstay penalties or plane fare home. NGOs reported foreign labor trafficking victims were less likely to report abuses to the authorities because of fear of deportation or detention. Trafficking victims who opted to remain in Jordan for work were required to pay their overstay and lapsed labor permit fines before applying for a new work permit, which was a significant financial burden for victims. During the reporting period, legal experts reported authorities arrested domestic workers – some of whom might have been trafficking victims – for not having travel documents. However, due to the pandemic, the MOL waived most fines for migrant workers with expired work or residence permits to allow migrant workers to depart Jordan. In May 2020, the government launched an online platform to assist migrant workers seeking to return to their home countries due to the pandemic. In addition, foreign embassies reported they negotiated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to release their citizens from detention for repatriation.