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, if any, on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Luxembourg remained on Tier 1. These efforts included investigating, prosecuting, and convicting more traffickers and identifying significantly more trafficking victims. The government also increased funding for awareness-raising activities. Although the government meets the minimum standards, the government decreased overall funding to NGOs for victim assistance and shelter for the third consecutive year. In addition, 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.

  • Seek adequate penalties for convicted traffickers, which should involve significant prison terms, and ensure convicted traffickers serve those sentences in practice.
  • Allow formal victim identification by entities other than the police, possibly including civil society, labor inspectors, social workers, and health care professionals, to ensure victims have immediate access to services.
  • Increase funding to NGOs to ensure shelter and services are offered and available to victims immediately upon identification.
  • 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 to ensure convictions result in adequate 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.
  • Develop a new NAP with measurable outcomes 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. GRETA raised concerns the definition could lead to confusion between pimping and human trafficking, as well as problems cooperating with foreign authorities. In 2022, the government investigated 66 cases, a significant increase from 20 in 2021. The government prosecuted 23 suspected traffickers in 2022, compared with 19 in 2021. Judges convicted three labor traffickers in 2022 (two in 2021), and sentenced one trafficker to 30 months in prison with a 15-month suspended sentence and fine, a second to 18 months in prison with a 12-month suspended sentence and fine, and a third to 24 months in prison and a fine with the prison sentence suspended. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in trafficking crimes.

Perennial problems undercut efforts to hold traffickers accountable and protect victims, such as lenient sentences, which weakened deterrence, and did not adequately reflect the nature of the crime. In addition, understaffed law enforcement may have impeded progress. In 2021, the Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CCDH), which serves as 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 maintained a victim protection and fugitive research unit, which ensured separation between victim assistance and investigations. The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) sent Judicial Police inspectors to foreign countries to investigate criminal cases that occurred in Luxembourg territory. The National Institute of Public Administration (INAP) provided anti-trafficking awareness training to law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges. However, GRETA expressed concern that while prosecutors brought cases to court demonstrating force, fraud, or coercion and invoking aggravating circumstances in all but one case from 2018 to 2021, some judges did not understand the severity of the crime and only found force, fraud, or coercion to be relevant in one case. In total, INAP provided training for 70 officials and also members of international organizations. Luxembourg law enforcement officers also participated in Joint Action Days with European partners against organized crime, resulting in the identification and investigation of several human trafficking cases across Europe.

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.

The government increased prevention efforts. The government’s interministerial trafficking committee, chaired by the MOJ, met four times in 2022 to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts and NAP implementation. GRETA reported the NAP, endorsed in 2016, was vague, lacked a timeframe on meeting objectives, and did not allocate any resources. The MOJ delayed developing a new NAP until summer 2023. CCDH began to draft its biennial 2020 through 2022 report and previewed, among other concerns, the need to improve victim identification and the tracking and recording of more statistics by the prosecutor’s office. 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; police identified 21 labor trafficking victims and 21 sex trafficking victims through the NGO hotlines. In 2022, the government budgeted €98,000 ($104,637) to fund awareness activities, an increase from €84,945 ($90,697) in 2021. The government created a video on human trafficking for authorities welcoming and processing Ukrainian refugees and translated some awareness materials into Ukrainian. The MOJ launched a social media campaign for the European Anti-Trafficking in Persons Day. In 2022, the government provided €1.07 million ($1.14 million) for overseas programs to combat sexual exploitation of children, including trafficking. In addition, the government provided €288,000 ($307,503) to NGOs for anti-trafficking projects in Africa and €234,000 ($249,847) for projects in South Asia.

Labor laws allowed recruitment fees but criminalized excessive amounts; the government did not report if it monitored or enforced that prohibition. In the past, 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. During the reporting period, the Labor Inspectorate referred 15 potential victims to police. The government reported increasing the number of labor inspectors from 22 inspectors in 2018 to 87 in 2022. In its biennial report covering 2019-2021, CCDH recommended labor inspectors receive investigative powers to allow criminal proceedings to use evidence of trafficking gathered by inspectors. However, the Labor Inspectorate suggested the Judicial Police hire more personnel to ensure trafficking is adequately covered. 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. The government encouraged, but did not require, diplomats to attend antitrafficking 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. The government provided information to the public about child sex tourism.

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, Nepali, Pakistani, South American, 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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