US Department of State issues Report on Trafficking in Persons. Romania – endemic corruption, complicity in trafficking crimes persisted

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The United States Department of State released its 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report on Thursday, a release from the US Embassy informs.

Embassy representatives have discussed the report with the Romanian Government counterparts. “The Embassy welcomes the commitment by the Government of Romania to address this serious issue and we are dedicated to working with the Government of Romania to support its efforts to combat trafficking in persons,” the release reads.

The Trafficking in Persons Report reads that “the Government of Romania does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. These efforts include indicting more suspected traffickers and adopting a five-year national strategy and national action plan. However, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period. Courts convicted significantly fewer traffickers and officials identified considerably fewer victims, continuing a multi-year decline in such efforts. Endemic corruption and alleged complicity in trafficking crimes persisted without punishment, particularly with officials exploiting minors while in the care of government-managed placement centers.”

The prioritized recommendations are:

  • Vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking cases under the trafficking statute and punish convicted traffickers with prison sentences.
  • Significantly increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict complicit officials, and issue stringent sentences that are proportionate with the severity of the crime.
  • Proactively identify potential victims, especially among vulnerable populations, such as migrants and asylum-seekers, children in government placement centers, and individuals in prostitution, through enhanced training for police officers and labor inspectors on recognizing indicators of exploitation.
  • Expand efforts to train officials involved in judicial proceedings, particularly judges, on working with trafficking cases and victims, sensitivity to trafficking issues, and understanding all forms of trafficking.
  • Increase the number of police officers investigating trafficking crimes and financial investigators specializing in trafficking cases.
  • Provide financial support to NGOs for victim services and develop and institute a formal mechanism for administering the funds.
  • Significantly increase anti-trafficking training for law enforcement officials on working with victims, evidence collection, and understanding psychological coercion.
  • Amend legislation to allow authorities to sanction recruiting agencies for crimes contributing to trafficking.
  • Increase the quality of psychological counseling and improve access to medical assistance for victims.
  • Exempt all trafficking victims who testify in trials from the online disclosure of their names to protect participating witnesses from retaliation and stigma and to incentivize greater victim participation in prosecutions.
  • Provide knowledgeable legal counsel and courtroom protections for victims assisting prosecutions.
  • Revise the restitution mechanism to include minimizing court fees and increasing efforts to ensure victims receive compensation.
  • Allocate adequate financial resources for the implementation of the 2018-2022 national strategy and national action plan.

About prosecution, the report says that the failure to prioritize trafficking, widespread corruption, and sweeping legal and judicial reforms hampered effective law enforcement. Observers reported endemic corruption and alleged complicity in trafficking crimes by government officials, particularly with officials exploiting minors while in the care of government-managed placement centers and acting as accomplices to traffickers.

Trafficking profile

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Romania, and traffickers exploit victims from Romania abroad. Romania remains a primary source country for sex trafficking and labor trafficking victims in Europe. Traffickers subject Romanian men, women, and children to labor trafficking in agriculture, construction, hotels, manufacturing, and domestic service, as well as forced begging and theft in Romania and other European countries.

Traffickers subject Romanian women and children to sex trafficking in Romania and other European countries. Experts report a rise in Romanian women recruited for sham marriages in Western Europe; after entering these marriages, traffickers force the women into prostitution or labor. Minors represent nearly 50 percent of identified trafficking victims in Romania.

Traffickers subjected some children to trafficking while in the care of the state, particularly in small towns. Romani children, as young as 11 years old, are particularly vulnerable to forced begging and sex trafficking. Romania is a destination country for a limited number of foreign trafficking victims, including trafficking victims from Vietnam and the Philippines. Traffickers subject Romanians living in government run institutions for the mentally disabled to forced labor, the Report concludes.

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