The government maintained overall efforts to protect victims. Police officially identified 50 trafficking victims, a significant increase compared with 20 in 2021. Of those victims, 48 were women and two were men. Foreign national women comprised the vast majority of identified victims; authorities did not identify any child trafficking victims. CCDH noted the prosecution office was slow to produce data, which led to a general lack of overall statistics that did not provide a comprehensive picture of the trafficking situation. 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 NRM that included instructions on identifying victims among unaccompanied children.
Government-funded victim services included housing, psychological support, and medical, legal, and financial assistance. In 2022, only 21 of the 50 identified victims received assistance; some of the identified victims declined assistance. The government allocated €277,000 ($295,758) to two NGOs responsible for coordinating trafficking victim care, a multiyear decrease compared with €412,870 ($440,830) in 2021 and €461,500 ($492,753) in 2020. The government also allocated €7.6 million ($8.1 million) to support NGO-run shelters providing assistance to victims of crime, including trafficking, a multiyear decrease compared with €8.3 million ($8.9 million) in 2021 and €8.4 million ($9 million) in 2020. Separately, the government allocated €124,000 ($132,397) to an NGO providing shelter specifically to male trafficking victims, an increase compared with €102,560 ($109,505) in 2021.
In January 2022, the two government-funded NGOs responsible for coordination created a combined name and logo to improve visibility and access to services and promoted a new single contact number; however, 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 at will during the business hours of their respective shelter. Observers noted decent cooperation between the two government-funded trafficking NGOs and the shelters; however, they expressed concern the shelters were often operating at full capacity. In 2022, the NGO-run, government-funded shelters housed 29 trafficking victims, compared with 26 victims in 2021.
The law entitled foreign victims 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. 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. Courts could grant restitution and victims could claim compensation through civil suits against traffickers. In 2022, the government enacted legislation creating an asset management office within the MOJ to administer assets seized from traffickers to pay restitution without the victim having to individually file a lawsuit to claim compensation, thus making it easier for a trafficking victim to receive their right to restitution from asset forfeiture. The government trained immigration officials on trafficking indicators, and officials used a questionnaire to proactively screen asylum-seekers for trafficking. 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.