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Luxembourg (Tier 1)

The Government of Luxembourg fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Luxembourg remained on Tier 1. These efforts included investigating, prosecuting, and convicting more traffickers; identifying more than double the number of trafficking victims; and providing shelter to significantly more trafficking victims. The government also added one additional staff member to a unit in the Judicial Police focused on victim protection and granted restitution to a victim in a criminal case. Moreover, the government significantly increased funding for awareness raising activities. Although the government meets the minimum standards, the government decreased funding for victim services, and judges continued to issue lenient sentences to convicted traffickers, creating potential safety concerns for trafficking victims, weakening deterrence, and undercutting nationwide efforts to fight trafficking.

  • Sentence traffickers to significant prison terms and ensure convicted traffickers serve those sentences in practice.
  • Develop safeguards for victims to protect them against traffickers freed on suspended sentences.
  • Revise the trafficking law to clarify that force, fraud, or coercion are core elements of the crime of trafficking of adults rather than aggravating factors.
  • Increase training for judges on the severity of the crime and the impact on victims and ensure convictions result in significant sentences.
  • Increase worker protections by eliminating recruitment fees charged to workers by labor recruiters and ensuring employers pay any recruitment fees.
  • Promote a victim-centered approach in child victim identification procedures.
  • Include measurable outcomes in the national action plan (NAP) to assess its progress.
  • Coordinate trafficking data collection and fund, maintain, and conduct trafficking research to create an evidence base for future policy decisions.

The government increased law enforcement efforts. Luxembourg criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking through Articles 382-1 and 382-2 of the criminal code and prescribed penalties of three to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine for trafficking offenses involving adult victims and 10 to 15 years’ imprisonment and a fine for offenses involving child victims. These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Inconsistent with the definition of trafficking under international law, the law established the use of force, fraud, or coercion as aggravating factors rather than essential elements of the crime.

In 2021, the government initiated 20 investigations, an increase from 11 in 2020. The government prosecuted 19 suspected traffickers in 2021, an increase from five in 2020. Judges convicted two traffickers for labor trafficking in 2021 (one conviction in 2020) and sentenced the two traffickers to 12 months’ imprisonment in addition to partially-suspended sentences. The issuance of weak sentences for trafficking convictions was a perennial problem that undercut efforts to hold traffickers accountable and protect victims. In 2020, judges partially suspended the convicted trafficker’s 18-month prison sentence, and in 2019, judges fully suspended the two convicted traffickers’ sentences. Law enforcement officials reported the law hindered investigators’ ability to search private homes suspected of being used for commercial sex and illicit activities; authorities noted commercial sex moved increasingly to private homes and online platforms during the pandemic. The national rapporteur expressed concern the Judicial Police was understaffed; the police organized crime unit responsible for investigating trafficking comprised only 13 investigators. The police added one additional person to the victim protection and fugitive research unit; this unit ensured separation between victim assistance and investigations. The government’s national institute of public administration provided anti-trafficking training to prosecutors, judges, law enforcement, and immigration officials. Law enforcement coordinated with authorities in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany on trafficking investigations. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in trafficking crimes.

The government increased overall efforts to protect victims. Authorities identified 17 trafficking victims (15 forced labor victims and two sex trafficking victims), an increase from seven in 2020. All were foreign citizens, including 13 men and four women. Any person or organization could report a suspected trafficking victim to the police, but the police had the sole authority to officially identify a victim and refer them to government assistance. Immigration officials used a specific victim identification protocol, based on the national referral mechanism, that included instructions on identifying victims among unaccompanied children.

Government-funded victim services included housing, psychological support, medical, legal, and financial assistance. The government provided €412,870 ($468,110) in 2021 to the two NGOs responsible for coordinating trafficking victim care, a decrease from €461,500 ($523,240) in 2020. Government-funded NGOs provided shelter to 26 trafficking victims in 2021 (two government-funded NGOs provided shelter to 16 victims in 2020). The two government-funded anti-trafficking NGOs created a combined name and logo to improve visibility and access to services and promoted a new single contact number in January 2022. Limited business hours continued to cause delays in victim assistance and hindered proactive operations. When the government identified victims outside operational hours, police could directly refer adult female and child victims to shelters; adult male victims could be housed temporarily in hotels until longer-term housing could be identified. Adult male victims could receive the same access to long-term accommodation and other victim services as adult female and child victims. Victims could leave the shelters unchaperoned and at will during business hours of their respective shelter. Observers noted good cooperation between the two government-funded anti-trafficking NGOs and the shelters, however, they expressed concern that the shelters were often operating at full capacity. The government provided €8.3 million ($9.4 million) to NGO-run centers that provided shelter and assistance to victims of crime, including trafficking victims, compared with €8.4 million ($9.5 million) in 2020. The government also allocated €102,560 ($116,280) to an NGO responsible for providing shelter to male trafficking victims, an increase from €96,960 ($109,930) in 2020.

Foreign victims were entitled to a 90-day reflection period to decide whether they wanted to testify, during which EU citizen victims could work. Upon expiration of the reflection period, the government could issue a foreign victim either temporary or permanent residency status if the victim chose to cooperate with law enforcement, during which time all victims could work. In June 2021, the government amended the Immigration Law to clarify that residence permits granted to trafficking victims were renewable throughout the judicial process, each time for a six-month period. The government assessed on a case-by-case basis the residency status of victims who did not participate in an investigation. Victim assistance was not contingent on cooperating with an investigation, but victims who declined to cooperate with police did not benefit from a temporary authorization to stay. The government provided legal alternatives to removal to countries in which victims would face retribution or hardship and provided relief from deportation for medical reasons. The government trained immigration officials on trafficking indicators, and officials used a questionnaire to proactively screen asylum-seekers for trafficking; however, the government did not detect potential trafficking victims among asylum-seekers in 2021 or 2020. The government provided protection to victims throughout the judicial process and took measures to avoid re-traumatization, including by limiting the number of victim interviews and allowing the recording of testimony of child victims. Courts could grant restitution, and victims could claim compensation through civil suits against traffickers. A court granted €27,470 ($31,150) in restitution to one victim in 2021 (courts did not grant restitution or provide compensation in civil suits in 2020).

The government maintained prevention efforts. The government’s inter-ministerial trafficking committee, chaired by the Ministry of Justice, met three times in 2021 to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts and NAP implementation. Some observers noted the government siloed responsibilities within numerous ministries with little centralized communication, however, the government did not report synchronization issues. For example, three separate ministries coordinated funding for male, female, and child shelters. GRETA reported the NAP, endorsed in 2016, was vague, lacked a timeframe on meeting objectives, and did not allocate any resources. The government’s work on a new NAP was ongoing at the end of the reporting period. The Consultative Commission on Human Rights continued to serve as the national rapporteur; it published its third biannual report in December 2021.

Labor laws allowed recruitment fees but criminalized excessive amounts; the government did not report if it monitored or enforced that prohibition. Observers reported the labor inspectorate was understaffed and inspectors did not have clear victim identification protocols and were not authorized to identify victims but could refer victims to the police. The national rapporteur stated the labor inspectorate should be given the authority to identify victims. Observers noted the labor inspectorate increased its efforts during the reporting period but was reluctant to restructure and take on new competencies. The government trained labor inspectors on trafficking indicators. The government continued its commitments under the 2020-2022 NAP on implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which sought to prevent forced labor in private sector supply chains. The national rapporteur called on the government to create a national due diligence law on supply chains; in 2021, the government launched a study to examine the feasibility of implementing due diligence legislation.

Two government-funded NGOs operated two trafficking-specific hotlines during regular business hours, and the government ran a hotline for victims of crime, including trafficking victims; the government did not report if the hotlines received any calls leading to the detection of trafficking victims. In 2021, the government budgeted €84,945 ($96,310) to fund awareness activities, a significant increase from €15,000 ($17,010) in 2020. The government continued its multi-faceted awareness campaign in coordination with the EU by printing and distributing brochures on victim rights and support services and renting and using advertisement space at tramway stops in one city. The national rapporteur reported the need to coordinate data collection across stakeholders. Government-funded NGOs carried out anti-trafficking projects in a range of countries, including Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, India, Mali, Nepal, Niger, and Nigeria. The government made efforts to reduce the demand for participation in international sex tourism by continuing to fund an NGO for local awareness campaigns focused on the prevention of child sex tourism. The government encouraged, but did not require, diplomats to attend anti-trafficking training. The government made some efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts through its 2018 law criminalizing the solicitation of a sex trafficking victim.

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit foreign victims in Luxembourg. Traffickers exploit victims from Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America in sex trafficking operations in cabarets, private apartments, and on the street. Increasingly, traffickers engage in forced labor crimes, sometimes involving People’s Republic of China nationals, Pakistani, or eastern or southern European men, women, and children in various sectors, including restaurants and construction. Traffickers transport Romani children from neighboring countries for forced begging in Luxembourg. Groups vulnerable to traffickers’ illicit schemes include migrant workers in domestic work, catering, construction, and begging, as well as unaccompanied foreign children and people in Luxembourg’s legal and illegal commercial sex industry.

U.S. Department of State

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