The government increased victim protection efforts. The government identified 276 victims (193 in 2019); 160 were victims of sex trafficking and 116 were victims of labor trafficking, including 43 of forced begging; 221 were female and 20 were male; 165 were children; and 272 were foreign victims and 11 were Turkish nationals. In 2019, 134 were victims of sex trafficking, 35 of labor trafficking, 16 were victims of forced captivity, four of forced begging, three of domestic servitude, and one of child soldiering; 173 were female and 20 were male; 20 were children; 191 were foreign victims and two were Turkish nationals. SOPs provided guidelines for identifying and referring victims to assistance and required first responders to refer potential victims to the DGMM, which officially recognized victims. DGMM maintained two identification experts in each of the 81 provincial offices to interview victims; DGMM interviewed approximately 4,919 potential victims (4,500 in 2019). In previous years, DGMM’s ability to identify victims varied among provinces. 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. GRETA and other observers reported limited capacity among first responders and inadequate proactive identification efforts, particularly for forced labor, Turkish nationals, children, and persons in the LGBTQI+ community. Police reported difficulties in identifying sex trafficking victims due to their fear of deportation and labor inspectors and asylum officers did not receive training or guidance on victim identification. In previous years, the government faced limitations in identifying victims in highly vulnerable refugee and migrant communities outside of camps and had insufficient protection resources to address trafficking in these communities; media and civil society reports continued to indicate forced removals to Syria without screening for indicators of trafficking.
The government did not report the total amount allocated for anti-trafficking efforts in 2019 or 2020 and did not provide funding to domestic NGOs. The government allocated 172,080 lira ($23,180) for direct victim assistance but did not report the amount allocated to international organizations working on trafficking-related projects, compared with 878,000 lira ($118,270) to international organizations in 2019. 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, vocational training, and legal counseling; the government provided support services to 209 victims. DGMM operated three specialized shelters for victims of trafficking and began construction for a fourth; the shelter in Kirikkale had the capacity to accommodate 20 victims, the Ankara shelter could accommodate 30 victims, and the Aydin shelter could accommodate 40 victims. Additionally, the government allocated 7,513 lira ($1,010) for financial assistance to victims, compared with 54,000 Lira ($7,270) in 2019. The local government of Kirikkale dispersed 100 lira ($13) per month to adult victims with an additional 100 lira ($13) for each of their children and the local government of Ankara dispersed 300 lira ($40) per month to adult victims and 50 lira ($7) for each of their children; 22 victims received financial assistance. MOFLSS operated 145 shelters that provided accommodation for victims of violence, including trafficking victims and the government-operated monitoring centers for children provided support to child victims of violence. 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. DGMM developed and circulated a manual for shelter staff with SOPs on service provision for trafficking victims and rules for shelter operations. The government trained shelter staff on pandemic mitigation efforts and provided COVID-19 tests and PPE to victims staying at the shelters. The government provided job placement support to victims; three victims found employment through job placement in 2020. During the reporting period, experts reported that victims stayed at DGMM-run shelters for longer than expected due to the pandemic and, in previous years, GRETA reported “serious concerns” about the limited capacity of specialized shelters to accommodate victims and the lack of specialized assistance. As in previous years, experts and civil society actors expressed concern that the government’s victim protection efforts were not sufficiently inclusive of NGOs, including funding of independent organizations and the government’s exclusion of some NGOs from identifying and providing services to victims.
In previous years, observers reported that the government penalized victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit due to inadequate identification efforts. For example, observers reported that authorities arrested, detained, and deported sex trafficking victims and charged other potential victims 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 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 41 permits (98 in 2019). DGMM voluntarily repatriated 21 victims with support from an international organization (86 in 2019). In previous years, the government placed the majority of undocumented foreign victims in removal centers and voluntarily repatriated them within a few days; as a result, most victims did not benefit from a reflection period or cooperate in court proceedings. Judges and prosecutors reported procedural law did 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 106 Judicial Support and Victims Services Offices dedicated to providing legal assistance and psycho-social support and 86 judicial interview rooms, which allowed victims to testify in private in order to reduce re-traumatization. Criminal courts often did not issue restitution and recommended victims to pursue compensation through civil suits; no victims received restitution in 2019 or 2020, and the government did not report whether any victims filed for or received compensation.