The Government of Romania does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so, says the latest Trafficking in Persons Report 2018 released by the US Department of State on Friday.
The report mentions that, although the government proved increased efforts by significantly increasing prosecutorial use of the trafficking statute, increasing participation in joint investigative teams with several European counterparts, implementing new prevention campaigns, and developing a draft national action plan, yet the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas.
„Lack of sufficient government funding to NGOs for assistance and protection services remained a problem, leaving most victims unprotected, susceptible to re-traumatization, without services, and vulnerable to re-trafficking. Bureaucratic procedures continued to impede victims’ access to medical care. Authorities investigated fewer trafficking crimes, courts convicted significantly fewer traffickers, and officials identified fewer victims. Judges continued to lack specialized training on working with trafficking cases and victims, which had detrimental effects on witness protection, restitution for victims, and sentencing for perpetrators,” says the report.
Moreover, the US State Department points out that in terms of prosecution, the government in Bucharest decreased overall law enforcement efforts.
„Articles 210, 211, and 367 of the penal code criminalized sex and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of three to 10 years imprisonment, which were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Authorities opened 675 new trafficking cases in 2017, a decrease from 864 and 858 in 2016 and 2015, respectively. Prosecutors processed 481 alleged trafficking cases in 2017, compared to 552 in 2016; of these cases, 57 (12 percent) were prosecuted for pandering, rape, sexual activity with minors, and fraud, compared to 416 (75 percent) in 2016, indicating a significant increase in the use of the trafficking statute versus lesser crimes that carried weaker penalties. The government did not report how many fines were levied on convicted traffickers in 2017, compared with approximately 200,000 lei ($51,550) in 2016. Authorities participated in 43 joint investigative teams with several European counterparts, compared with 21 in 2016. Authorities extradited 44 traffickers to other European countries to serve sentences. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in trafficking offenses.
Romania’s trafficking profile
As reported over the past five years, Romania is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and women and children subjected to sex trafficking, the report says.
„Romania is a significant source of sex and labor trafficking victims throughout Europe. Romanian men, women, and children are subjected to labor trafficking in agriculture, construction, hotels, manufacturing, and domestic service, as well as forced begging and theft in Romania and other European countries. Romanian women and children are victims of sex trafficking in Romania and other European countries. Romani children, as young as 12 years old, are particularly vulnerable to forced begging and sex trafficking. Reports indicate some children were subjected to trafficking while in the care of the state, particularly in small towns. Romania is a destination country for a limited number of foreign trafficking victims, including trafficking victims from Pakistan and the Philippines. Romanians living in privately run institutions for the mentally disabled are vulnerable to forced labor,” the US State Department concludes.