The government decreased protection efforts. In 2020, authorities identified 13 confirmed victims and NGOs identified 13 presumed victims, a decrease for the second consecutive year and the fewest total victims since at least 2008. This number compared with 45 confirmed victims and 33 presumed victims in 2019 and 49 confirmed and 203 presumed in 2018. Of the confirmed victims, five were female sex trafficking victims, and eight were male labor trafficking victims. Five of the confirmed trafficking victims were from Romania, seven were from Pakistan, and one was unidentified. Of the presumed victims, 10 were female, and three were male; at least eight were from India; and at least nine were exploited in labor trafficking. Experts raised concerns regarding gaps in the government’s efforts to proactively identify trafficking victims—the government did not identify any Portuguese victims in 2020 and, unlike 2019, the government also did not identify any child victims. 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 health care workers. The government updated the referral mechanism in 2020 to include new organizations providing services to trafficking victims. The government’s Observatory on Trafficking in Human Beings continued to distribute checklists to law enforcement, NGOs, health care professionals, labor inspectors, and social workers on identifying victims of sex trafficking and forced labor, including victims of forced begging and criminality. The government continued to provide a victim identification handbook to labor inspectors. Upon encountering a potential victim, law enforcement personnel conducted an initial standardized risk assessment and systematically 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 formally “confirm” an individual as a trafficking victim. Police, judges, and prosecutors determined 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.
In 2020, the government maintained 2019 funding amounts for trafficking shelters, victim repatriation, and the multidisciplinary regional teams at €1.5 million ($1.84 million), with €1.5 million ($1.84 million) earmarked each year through 2022. Adult victims and their minor children had the right to shelter; health care; psycho-social, legal, and translation and interpretation services; a reintegration program; and education and employment training. The government referred 23 total victims (17 male and six female) to shelter services in 2020, a decrease compared with 57 in 2019. The government also enrolled four trafficking victims in its reintegration program, which included accommodation in an independent apartment. However, aside from shelter and reintegration, the government did not report how many victims utilized other available services provided by the shelters during the reporting period. The government had 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. In response to the pandemic, the government implemented additional protective measures for human trafficking victims in shelters, including social distancing and quarantine rooms, which may have reduced overall capacity. 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 seven children.
Courts permitted some victims of crime to testify by deposition or video conference, but the government did not report whether this protection was extended to any trafficking victims during the reporting period. The government had a comprehensive witness protection program that could be utilized by trafficking victims, but it did not report whether any were afforded this protection 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 response to the pandemic, the government issued an order to grant foreign national victims with pending applications permanent residency. Of the 25 permits requested by trafficking victims in 2020, 20 temporary residence permits were issued to victims from Guinea, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Senegal; an increase compared with 16 residence permits issued in 2019. Courts awarded restitution to at least five victims from four cases in 2020, an increase compared with none reported in 2019. 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 unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit could leave victims vulnerable to individual prosecutors’ decisions to bring charges.