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The Government of Denmark fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government made key achievements during the reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, if any, on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Denmark was upgraded to Tier 1. These achievements included prosecuting more traffickers and convicting traffickers for the first time in three years; establishing a special crimes unit with designated police and prosecutors investigating organized crime and other serious crimes, including trafficking. Additionally, the government identified more trafficking victims, granted compensation and restitution to victims, and, for the second consecutive year, granted a temporary residence permit to a trafficking victim. Furthermore, the government developed guidance on preventing labor trafficking in corporate value chains. Although the government meets the minimum standards, authorities investigated fewer trafficking cases. The government continued to focus on the deportation of some foreign victims rather than screening for trafficking indicators. The government did not adequately encourage victims’ assistance with investigations, and its practice to swiftly repatriate foreign victims inhibited successful prosecutions and left victims vulnerable to re-trafficking and reluctant to come forward and work with police. Moreover, the government lacked clear procedures for identifying child victims, especially among unaccompanied children.

  • Proactively screen all vulnerable individuals, such as migrant workers, asylum-seekers, and unaccompanied children, for trafficking indicators and stay deportation of potential victims prior to identification and assistance.
  • Increase incentives for all victims to cooperate in the prosecution of traffickers, including by granting longer-term residency and work permits.
  • Develop clear procedures for identifying and assisting child trafficking victims and train relevant workers to recognize indicators.
  • Develop uniform procedures for investigating trafficking crimes for all police districts to follow and train police on implementation, including gathering evidence.
  • Implement Section 722(2) of the Administration of Justice Act consistently and corresponding prosecutorial guidelines to ensure victims are not inappropriately penalized solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.
  • Investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes and convict traffickers with an increased focus on pursuing labor trafficking cases.
  • Seek adequate penalties for convicted traffickers, which involve significant prison terms.
  • Train asylum officers to recognize indicators and identify victims during asylum interviews.
  • Grant and renew residence permits to asylum-seekers.
  • Amend the law to prohibit worker-paid recruitment fees.
  • Train law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and judges on victim-centered, trauma-informed approaches.
  • Expand efforts to increase cooperation among civil society and government anti-trafficking actors, particularly police, including enhancing civil society’s participation in government-led working groups.

The government increased law enforcement efforts. Section 262(a) of the criminal code criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed punishments of up to 10 years’ imprisonment; these penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. At the end of the last reporting period, the government passed a new provision to the criminal code, Section 262(b), which criminalized the exploitation of a person in labor under manifestly unreasonable conditions, and prescribed penalties of up to six years’ imprisonment. During this reporting period, the government amended Section 262(b) to include the exploitation of persons in commercial sex. Due to its lower evidentiary standard, observers and government officials were optimistic the provision could be used to more easily prosecute trafficking cases where force, fraud, or coercion were particularly difficult to prove.

In 2022, authorities investigated 10 trafficking cases (four sex trafficking, one labor trafficking, five unspecified forms of trafficking), compared with 15 in 2021. Authorities prosecuted five suspects for sex trafficking, compared with three in 2021. Courts convicted five sex traffickers – the first convictions in three years. Sentences ranged from six months’ to six years’ imprisonment with three convicted traffickers receiving sentences longer than three years. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in trafficking crimes. Danish authorities cooperated with their foreign counterparts on transnational investigations, including a labor trafficking investigation with Moldovan authorities involving an extradition and a sex trafficking investigation with Romanian authorities involving an organized crime group. In 2022, authorities developed closer cooperation with other EU Member States’ law enforcement authorities via operational actions and task forces within EUROPOL, as well as through Member States’ country liaison officers in Denmark. For example, Denmark joined a task force within EUROPOL that focused on fighting Chinese criminal networks facilitating sex trafficking within several European countries. Additionally, authorities of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden facilitated international policing efforts and information sharing, including on trafficking-related issues, through Nordic liaison officers stationed at 20 Nordic embassies and consulates around the world.

The government reorganized the National Police and established a special crimes unit with designated police and prosecutors investigating organized crime and other severe crimes, including trafficking. The new unit had neither commenced investigating trafficking cases nor released a new national strategy, including procedures, to investigate trafficking-related crimes for all 12 police districts to follow. Each district maintained its own procedures for investigating trafficking crimes, with some districts treating trafficking cases as organized crime investigations and others as individual crime investigations. Each district also maintained a specialized trafficking coordinator who was responsible for managing trafficking cases. NGOs reported ongoing challenges when contacting the police to report cases and a lack of cooperation and information sharing. According to regional experts, however, the level of expertise varied by district, and there were no specialized police investigators outside the National Police, which had no jurisdiction but assisted local and regional police in trafficking investigations. Additionally, NGOs reported some police lacked experience responding to trafficking incidents and called for a specialized anti-trafficking unit with trained officers. The Danish Tax Agency assessed the risk of trafficking in tax-related criminal cases, participated in police inspections in cases involving trafficking, and provided police and prosecutors with information on citizens’ and companies’ tax and value-added tax payments. Experts continued to express concern with the low overall number of trafficking prosecutions and convictions. One legal expert expressed frustration that authorities rarely prosecuted labor trafficking cases. Furthermore, reports indicated limited resources, an overreliance on victim testimony, and a high burden of proof led to cases being investigated and prosecuted under non-trafficking statutes, such as usury or “pimping,” which prescribe lesser penalties. Several NGOs criticized police, prosecutors, and judges for their lack of a victim-centered, trauma-informed approach, particularly during criminal proceedings, which sometimes led to the dismissal of trafficking cases. The government provided a range of trafficking-related trainings for judges, prosecutors, police, and front-line personnel throughout the year on various topics, such as how to recognize trafficking indicators and prepare and present court cases.

The government increased protection efforts. In 2022, authorities identified 72 trafficking victims (42 sex trafficking, nine labor trafficking, 21 unspecified forms of trafficking), a multiyear increase from 68 in 2021 and 64 in 2020. Of these victims, the vast majority were female sex trafficking victims, and all but one were foreign nationals. NGOs continued to express concern that the government’s focus on female sex trafficking victims overlooked vulnerable boys and men as potential victims. The 2022-2025 NAP set the overall framework for victim identification and protection measures. In 2022, as outlined in the NAP, the Department for Gender Equality assigned the Center against Human Trafficking (CMM) – which coordinated interagency engagement, collected and disseminated data, and developed nationwide social services for victims – and the Danish Immigration Service (DIS) as the only authorities with responsibility to formally identify trafficking victims to ensure uniform case management and data protection. NGOs noted their appreciation for the new streamlined process but expressed concern it impaired their trust-building and continuity efforts and limited their role working with victims as they could no longer conduct interviews to formally identify victims. CMM was responsible for formal identification of Danish or EU citizens or documented migrants, while DIS was responsible for formal identification of undocumented immigrants and asylum-seekers. DIS screened potential victims during asylum interviews; if indicators of trafficking were present, DIS requested CMM assess the case. Lawyers who worked with victims noted, while asylum officers were aware of trafficking indicators, they were not trained to identify potential victims among asylum-seekers. CMM, DIS, and the courts assessed whether a victim was eligible for assistance, which was not conditional on cooperation with law enforcement, or whether there was an ongoing investigation.

The NAP entitled all victims to the same assistance regardless of their residency status or country of origin. In 2022, 69 identified trafficking victims received some form of government assistance (68 in 2021, 64 in 2020). As a standard practice during reflection periods, CMM assigned a contact person to inform victims of relevant services and coordinate assistance. As part of the NAP and to ensure safety and quality services, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Senior Citizens approved accommodations for trafficking victims and conducted inspections of shelters for adequate services. For victims without legal status or asylum-seekers, CMM provided accommodation, in collaboration with DIS,s in asylum centers, shelters, or safe houses, which offered health care services, social services, educational activities, and vocational training for trafficking victims throughout the duration of their stay. CMM also offered educational activities, health care, and psychological care through private clinics and received 10.8 million DKK ($1.55 million) for 2022-2025 from the government. A government-funded NGO operated a specialized crisis shelter for up to eight female victims and, for 2022-2025, received 1.5 million DKK ($215,550) annually. The NGO received an additional 1 million DKK ($143,700) to renovate the shelter. Male victims could be accommodated in shelters specialized for men in crisis.

Municipal child protection authorities assisted child victims and placed them in foster care, municipal accommodations, or residential care institutions. The Danish Red Cross assisted unaccompanied children in facilities partially funded by the government and screened all unaccompanied children in asylum centers for trafficking indicators. Regional experts reported shortcomings, such as a lack of clear procedures, in the identification of child victims, especially among unaccompanied migrant children. In 2022, four of the 72 identified victims were children (five in 2021). Experts recommended developing a specialized framework for identifying and assisting children and providing safe accommodations. CMM and the Ministry of Immigration and Integration’s Return Agency offered financial and legal counseling and reintegration assistance provided either as cash support or in-kind as activities facilitated by local partner organizations. In 2022, the Return Agency granted reintegration support to 31 victims (15 cash support, 16 in-kind support). The most common reintegration activities included business start-ups, education, accommodation, and purchasing household supplies; cash support was given to victims returning to countries where Denmark did not have a local partner. Local municipalities also provided separate victim assistance.

Strict immigration policies and guidelines increased vulnerability among asylum-seekers and refugees, particularly those the government returned to their country of origin who could face retribution or hardship. However, the government remained focused on receiving and integrating Ukrainian refugees and providing them counseling and support. The Aliens Act allowed the government to grant residence permits to refugees and family members, including trafficking victims, for temporary stay only and to revoke residence permits if the government determined the need for protection no longer existed. In 2022, for the second consecutive year, the government granted a temporary residence permit to a trafficking victim. Regional experts reported it was “nearly impossible” for victims to receive a residence permit, noting since 2017 the government had granted only three new residence permits. Experts also reported the difficulty for victims to receive work permits. NGOs contended authorities primarily treated foreign victims as undocumented immigrants subject to arrest or deportation, especially if victims were previously detained by law enforcement. Officials had the authority to detain potential victims for 72 hours and could extend this period when they needed more time to determine victim status or immigration status, or to identify traffickers. As part of procedure, the government granted identified, undocumented trafficking victims a 30-day reflection period to stay in Denmark and receive support and assistance – regardless of their cooperation with police – with the potential to extend another 90 days. The government required victims who accepted the subsequent 90-day extension to leave voluntarily within 120 days. The Return Agency processed voluntary returns of foreigners whose residency requests were not approved, including trafficking victims, to their country of origin. Some victims chose not to participate in a voluntary return because they viewed it as preparation for deportation. Additionally, traffickers’ use of debt-based coercion and victims’ lack of protection in their home countries served as significant deterrents from accepting the return. NGOs expressed concern the government’s focus on swiftly repatriating victims to their countries of origin did not fully consider whether victims would face retribution or hardship if returned to countries where local authorities were unable to protect them. Regional anti-trafficking experts, including the Council of Europe, contended the 30-day reflection period did not facilitate a sufficient period of reflection and recovery necessary to determine whether victims would cooperate in the investigation of their cases; rather it was a period of time victims had to cooperate in their repatriation. During the pandemic, the government extended the 30-day reflection period up to eight months; NGOs supported keeping the longer reflection period, noting it allowed victims to rest, seek counsel, and recover properly. NGOs noted the government did not have a legal mechanism to allow victims to permanently remain in Denmark. The government allowed victims who assisted in the prosecution of a trafficker to remain in Denmark for the duration of the investigation or court proceedings. However, NGOs reported the threat of deportation prevented victims from coming forward and led some identified victims to leave shelters before the conclusion of police investigations or court proceedings to evade deportation. Additionally, observers noted many victims saw no benefit to being identified and there was little to no incentive for victims to serve as witnesses since there were limited long-term residence options, the compensation process remained complex, and, above all else, the government prioritized returning victims to their countries of origin. Police noted the burden of proof for law enforcement to prove a trafficking case became difficult when victims did not testify in court. For victims who testified in court, the government assigned a contact person, typically a police officer, to provide guidance and information about the case. Danish law entitled victims to legal assistance during their trials upon request and the ability to request restitution from traffickers as part of criminal proceedings as well as file civil suits for financial compensation. In 2022, courts granted restitution, totaling 140,000 DKK ($20,120), in three cases and compensation, totaling 280,100 DKK ($40,250), in four cases.

Sections 82(6) and 83 of the Danish criminal code stated, under mitigating circumstances, authorities could reduce or remit penalties if a victim committed a crime as a result of force, deceit, or exploitation. Additionally, according to Section 722(2) of the Administration of Justice Act, authorities could waive or reduce prosecution if a victim was compelled to commit a crime and the crime committed could not be characterized as a “serious crime.” If the crime committed was characterized as a “serious crime,” the compulsion could be considered as a mitigating factor in sentencing. The Director of Public Prosecutions provided guidelines to prosecutors to provide fair and consistent application of Section 722(2). While the Director of Public Prosecutions was unable to provide data on whether trafficking victims had been fined or jailed for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked, NGOs asserted there were incidents in which authorities prosecuted victims, including children, for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.

The government increased prevention efforts. The Department for Gender Equality led an inter-ministerial working group that coordinated the government’s anti-trafficking efforts and implementation of the 2022-2025 NAP to combat trafficking. The NAP included a range of proposed initiatives focusing on strengthening outreach and identification, improving victim services, and enhancing prosecution efforts; the government allocated 118.2 million DKK ($17 million) for the duration of the NAP. As one of the NAP’s initiatives, the government allocated 1 million DKK ($143,700) to the Danish Institute of Human Rights to conduct a study in 2024-2025, analyzing Denmark’s efforts to protect trafficking victims in the context of international conventions. Through another NAP initiative, in 2022, CMM transferred outreach responsibilities to NGOs and subsequently allocated 30 million DKK ($4.31 million) annually through 2025 for expanding and strengthening their outreach work to potential trafficking victims. NGOs recommended the government establish a more permanent funding mechanism for anti-trafficking activities, as opposed to funding in four-year intervals, and include them in the inter-ministerial working group to assist with coordinating efforts, such as NAP implementation, and boost cooperation between civil society and the government. Since many potential victims did not speak Danish and struggled to access and understand information on assistance, CMM provided translated health guidelines through its mobile health clinics, which focused primarily on raising awareness among individuals in commercial sex. CMM operated a hotline for reporting trafficking cases in Danish and English; in 2022, the hotline received 37 calls leading to victim identification and referral to assistance. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. Denmark participated in an EU-wide joint action week focused on detecting and disrupting organized crime groups and high-value targets involving sex trafficking, forced criminality, and forced begging. As a member of the Council of the Baltic Sea States’ anti-trafficking taskforce, Denmark contributed to a 2022 report on best practices among Member States; contributions included the mobile health clinics and training sessions for employees from the Danish Working Environment Authority on trafficking indicators. In 2022, the Danish Business Authority developed guidance on preventing forced labor in corporate value chains. Additionally, the Mediation and Complaints-Handling Institution for Responsible Business Conduct maintained a website with information on responsible business conduct with a focus on human and labor rights in value chains and for reporting possible violations. Danish law did not prohibit worker-paid recruitment fees.

In response to the inflow of refugees fleeing Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and arriving in Denmark, CMM and the police distributed information to refugees in Ukrainian, English, and Russian on trafficking risks and available resources for potential victims at Denmark’s borders, employment centers, and asylum centers throughout the country. CMM also provided front-line personnel with guidelines on identifying trafficking indicators. Police districts used updated guidelines to identify victims, monitor risks, and prevent trafficking among refugees. The government passed a law providing two-year residence permits for arriving Ukrainian refugees and granting them access to the labor, education, and health care systems with the possibility of a one-year extension. Denmark participated in an EU-wide joint action day identifying traffickers recruiting Ukrainian victims online and in an EU-wide joint action week targeting labor trafficking among Ukrainian refugees. Authorities did not identify any cases.

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Denmark and, to a lesser extent, traffickers exploit victims from Denmark abroad. In recent years, traffickers increasingly use the internet and social media to recruit, exploit, and keep victims under surveillance. Vulnerable groups include undocumented migrants and asylum-seekers, young men, unaccompanied children, individuals in commercial sex, and members of the LGBTQI+ community, particularly those with nontraditional gender identities. NGOs express concern immigration policies exacerbate the risk of trafficking among asylum-seekers. In 2022, the number of identified female victims exceeded male victims. While this is consistent with historical trends, it differs from 2021 when identified female and male victims were almost equally distributed. Traffickers exploit migrants, typically men who come to Denmark from Africa and Southeast Asia, in labor trafficking, specifically trucking, construction, agriculture, domestic service, restaurants, hotels, and factories, through debt-based coercion, withheld wages, abuse, and threats of deportation. According to NGOs, traffickers exploit unaccompanied children, particularly Moroccan boys, in sex trafficking and forced labor, including drug trafficking, theft, and other forms of forced criminality. Vietnamese men are vulnerable to forced criminal activity, such as cannabis cultivation. Traffickers exploit men, women, and children from Africa, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia in forced labor and sex trafficking in Denmark with an increasing number of sex trafficking victims coming from those regions. The majority of women exploited in commercial sex originate from Nigeria and Thailand. NGOs report an increasing trend toward online advertised commercial sex rather than in established locations. Thousands of Ukrainian refugees, predominantly women and children, who are fleeing Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and seeking sanctuary in Denmark, are highly vulnerable to trafficking.

The Kingdom of Denmark includes the semi-autonomous territories of Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The Danish National Police is responsible for law enforcement services in all regions governed by the Kingdom of Denmark, including Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Denmark is responsible for the administration of criminal law and justice in Greenland. The Faroe Islands manage their own criminal law system, but Denmark is responsible for the administration of justice. Human trafficking is punishable under Section 93 of the Greenlandic Criminal Code, which is similar to Section 262(a) of the Danish Penal Code. Human trafficking is punishable under Section 262(a) of the Faroese Penal Code, which is equivalent to Section 262(a) of the Danish Penal Code. The Faroe Islands Police and the Greenlandic Police form an integral part of the Danish National Police. The Danish Prosecution Service meets regularly with prosecutors, including representatives from both territories, to discuss potential trafficking issues, such as working with victims who are participating in criminal proceedings. In 2022, there were no reports of trafficking cases or identified victims in Greenland or the Faroe Islands, the same as in 2021. The Greenlandic Police maintains jurisdiction over foreign nationals and works with relevant agencies on issues affecting foreign workers, which can include labor trafficking. The number of foreign citizens working in Greenland is increasing, particularly from Thailand and the Philippines, a trend expected to continue with the expansion of airports and tourism. With the number of foreign workers in the Faroe Islands steadily increasing, the Faroe Islands Police, the Faroese Work Environment Authority, and the Faroese Tax Authority collaborate to oversee the labor market and ensure foreign workers are treated the same as local workers.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future