Last Updated: Friday, 11 July 2014, 13:14 GMT

2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Macau

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 19 June 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Macau, 19 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fe30cb23c.html [accessed 13 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

MACAU (Tier 2 Watch List)

The Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) of the People's Republic of China is primarily a destination and, to a much lesser extent, a source territory for women and children subjected to sex trafficking and possibly forced labor. Victims originate primarily from the Chinese mainland, with many from inland Chinese provinces who travel to the border province of Guangdong in search of better employment. Sex trafficking victims in Macau also include women from Mongolia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Russia. Many trafficking victims fall prey to false advertisements for jobs in casinos and other legitimate employment in Macau, but upon arrival, are forced into prostitution. Foreign and mainland Chinese women are sometimes passed to local organized crime groups upon arrival, held captive, and forced into sexual servitude. Victims are sometimes confined in massage parlors and illegal brothels, where they are closely monitored, forced to work long hours, have their identity documents confiscated, and are threatened with violence. Chinese, Russian, and Thai criminal syndicates are believed to be involved in recruiting women for Macau's commercial sex industry. Macau made no changes to the immigration regulation structure which renders foreign migrants vulnerable to forced labor; those foreign migrants who are fired for cause or quit must wait six months to obtain another work permit. In one documented case, Macau also has been a source territory for women who are subjected to sex trafficking elsewhere in Asia.

The MSAR does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite these efforts, the MSAR authorities did not demonstrate evidence of increasing efforts to address human trafficking; therefore, Macau is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. The government made no discernible progress in prosecuting sex trafficking or forced labor offenders, obtaining no human trafficking convictions during the reporting period. It identified and assisted 13 victims, a decline from 17 victims the previous year, and did not have a clear policy in place to protect trafficking victims from future hardship.

Recommendations for Macau: Expand capacity to prosecute trafficking cases by increasing the number of prosecutors responsible for criminal cases and devoting a prosecutor specifically to trafficking crimes; significantly increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders, including perpetrators of forced labor; make efforts to investigate and prosecute official complicity in trafficking; continue to conduct worksite inspections for evidence of forced labor and apply appropriate protective measures when victims are identified, including offering them legal alternatives to their removal countries where they may face hardship and retribution; implement proactive victim identification methods, particularly among vulnerable populations such as migrant workers; end the six-month waiting period for migrant workers to obtain new work; and continue to educate law enforcement, other government officials, and the public on forced labor as well as sex trafficking.

Prosecution

During the reporting period, Macau authorities decreased their trafficking investigations and did not report any prosecutions or convictions. Macau's anti-trafficking law, Law Number 6/2008, prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons and prescribes penalties of three to 15 years' imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent punishments and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Macau authorities conducted 13 forced prostitution investigations and no forced labor investigations during the reporting period, a slight decrease in investigations from the previous period in which the government conducted 15 forced prostitution investigations. The government did not report any prosecutions or convictions of trafficking offenders during the reporting period, whereas in the previous year the government prosecuted two cases and secured one conviction. The government initiated no investigations or convictions of officials either complicit or responsible for human trafficking. The judiciary remained ill-equipped to address trafficking and had just 11 prosecutors to handle all criminal cases in Macau. Many cases investigated were closed due to lack of evidence or witnesses who were unwilling to cooperate with government authorities. In October 2011, the judicial police held a training seminar for 68 officers on Macau's anti-trafficking law and case studies. Additionally, in November 2011, the Human Trafficking Deterrent Measures Concern Committee (which serves as Macau's anti-trafficking committee) organized a seminar for participants from various law enforcement agencies in Macau on how to define, investigate, and prosecute trafficking cases. The government continued to provide trafficking awareness training to all new judicial and public security police officers.

Protection

Macau authorities made modest efforts to protect trafficking victims during the reporting period. The government identified 13 victims of forced prostitution in 2011 compared with 17 victims of forced prostitution in 2010. The government identified no victims of forced labor in 2011. Twelve of the victims identified in 2011 were from China and one of the victims was from Russia. The Social Welfare Bureau assisted and offered shelter to all of the identified victims. The government reported using a standardized screening questionnaire to guide law enforcement, immigration, and social services personnel in identifying trafficking victims. The government designated 21 beds for female trafficking victims of any nationality at a shelter managed by the Social Welfare Bureau. An NGO-operated shelter for children 16 years old and under continued to operate; it served three victims of trafficking during the reporting period. The government sustained an existing partnership with a local NGO in order to identify interpreters to assist in interviewing foreign trafficking victims. The government did not report providing any services to male or female forced labor victims, or male victims of forced prostitution. In March 2011, the government trained 30 officers from the Health Bureau on procedures for medical professionals caring for trafficking victims. During seminars in May, September, and November 2011, Health Bureau officers trained 212 fellow officers on behavioral and psychological indicators of trafficking. Immigration regulations continued to create vulnerabilities for foreign workers during the reporting period. The government encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes and nine of the 13 trafficking victims did so during the reporting period. Victims were not allowed to work during the reporting period. Although the government had a policy in place for general foreign crime victims, offering them legal alternatives to removal to countries in which they would face retribution or hardship, it was unclear whether this policy applied specifically to trafficking victims.

Prevention

The Government of Macau made efforts to prevent forced prostitution and some efforts to prevent forced labor during the reporting period. The Human Trafficking Deterrent Measures Concern Committee is the government's anti-trafficking committee. The committee is comprised of representatives from eight different government agencies and met monthly during the reporting period to coordinate the government's response to trafficking among the various agencies in the committee. The Legal Affairs Bureau, assisted by an NGO, produced and disseminated two new pamphlets on trafficking, with one pamphlet aimed at clients and the other at victims of the sex trade. The client-oriented pamphlet focused on legal ramifications of participating in the commercial sex trade, and offered mechanisms to report suspected trafficking, whereas the victim-oriented pamphlet discussed assistance and rights for victims. Both pamphlets were available in multiple languages. These did not, however, attempt to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. An NGO was funded by the government to place 4,000 posters on the dangers of child trafficking in public buses, taxis, and public places. The Social Welfare Bureau partnered with the Women's Association of Macau to organize four community education events on human trafficking. Recommendations released in 2011 from a government-commissioned study conducted by the University of Macau led the government to increase efforts to raise public awareness of trafficking. The government reported no investigations or prosecutions of child sex tourism during the reporting period.

Search Refworld