Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July 2014, 14:56 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Iceland

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Iceland, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee75c.html [accessed 23 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.

Iceland (Tier 2)

Iceland is a destination and transit country for women subjected to forced prostitution. Some reports maintain Iceland also may be a destination country for men and women who are subjected to conditions of forced labor in the restaurant and construction industries. A 2009 Icelandic Red Cross report claimed that there were at least 59 and possibly as many as 128 cases of human trafficking in Iceland over the three years prior to the report; female victims of human trafficking in Iceland came from Eastern Europe, Russia, Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia. During the reporting period, foreign women in prostitution within the country were vulnerable to sex trafficking. According to the Red Cross report, undocumented foreign workers – mostly from Eastern Europe and Baltic states – in Iceland's manufacturing and construction industries were vulnerable to forced labor. During the reporting period, local authorities were unable to document cases of forced labor but did acknowledge violations of immigration or employment law. Authorities suspected involvement of organized crime in trafficking.

The Government of Iceland does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The Icelandic government made important progress in victim protection this year, identifying and caring for more victims of trafficking than in the previous year. The government also approved two new residence permits to assist victims of trafficking and provided funding for a new shelter to aid the long-term reintegration of trafficking victims. During the year, the Iceland police developed formal guidelines for victim identification. Nevertheless, the Government of Iceland's prevention activities were limited and, in contrast with the last reporting period, it prosecuted no trafficking offenses. Critically, the Icelandic government continued to prescribe a sentence for trafficking that was half that prescribed for other violent crimes such as rape and aggravated physical assault; the statutory maximum sentence did not oblige Icelandic police to hold human trafficking suspects in pre-trial detention.

Recommendations for Iceland: Amend the criminal code to ensure that penalties prescribed for sex trafficking are commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes such as rape and aggravated physical assault; vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict trafficking offenders; continue to formalize victim identification and care procedures for all care providers; expand training on identification and referral of victims to prosecutors, labor inspectors, and health officials; conduct an awareness and prevention campaign focused on both sex and labor trafficking and the demand for both forms of trafficking; consider establishing a hotline for reporting suspected instances of human trafficking.

Prosecution

The government of Iceland demonstrated some law enforcement efforts during the reporting period, although the government did not initiate any prosecutions or convict any trafficking offenders. Iceland prohibits both sex and labor trafficking under Article 227a of its criminal code. Punishments prescribed for trafficking under Article 227a range up to eight years' imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent though not commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes such as rape. Although actual sentences awarded to trafficking offenders have been similar to rape sentences, government officials reported that the lower statutory trafficking sentence impaired criminal trafficking investigations by not obligating the police to hold trafficking suspects in pre-trial detention. During the reporting period, the Government of Iceland drafted legislation to raise the maximum sentence for trafficking in persons to 12 years' imprisonment. If passed, this legislation would enforce a maximum sentence that would obligate the police to hold trafficking suspects in pre-trial detention. Police conducted two trafficking investigations during the reporting period, compared with three investigations in 2009. Icelandic authorities did not initiate any trafficking prosecutions during the reporting period, nor did it achieve any convictions. Last year, it initiated eight prosecutions and convicted five trafficking offenders. The Government of Iceland does not have specialized anti-trafficking investigative or prosecutorial units. The government did not report the investigation, prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of any government official complicit in trafficking. In 2010, the Icelandic government cooperated with Spanish law enforcement authorities on a trafficking investigation. Icelandic authorities trained students at the national police college on recognizing and investigating human trafficking and funded some training of Icelandic law enforcement officers abroad.

Protection

The government made significant progress in its victim protection efforts, establishing a more formal system for the identification and referral of victims of trafficking and developing residence permits for victims of trafficking. During the reporting period, the government established a new temporary residence permit for victims of trafficking, granting a six-month reflection period to foreign individuals if there is suspicion that they are victims of trafficking; the government granted one of these permits to a victim of trafficking. The government also created a second one-year renewable residence permit for victims of trafficking who cooperate with law enforcement or who find themselves in compelling circumstances, such as facing retribution or hardship in their home countries. The Icelandic government funded a domestic violence shelter that was available to house trafficking victims. This year, the shelter reported caring for approximately six victims of trafficking. Victims of trafficking were permitted to leave the shelter unchaperoned and at will. The government also allocated approximately $85,000 for a long-term shelter to assist sex trafficking victims in reintegration; the government anticipates that this shelter will open later in 2011. There is no specialized care center available to male victims of trafficking, although all victims, regardless of age or gender, are entitled to free, government-supported health care, and legal and counseling services. During the reporting period, the National Police Commissioner published formal rules of procedure for identifying and caring for suspected victims of trafficking. Social workers, health care professionals, and labor inspectors still lacked formal proactive guidance on identifying and caring for victims of trafficking. Stakeholders consequently called for formal cooperation agreements and procedures to be established for all those participating in identification and care of trafficking victims. Law enforcement identified at least six trafficking victims during the reporting period and referred each victim to care. This is a large increase from last year, in which the government identified three victims of trafficking. Nevertheless, three victims declined assistance. NGOs reported identifying at least four more victims of trafficking. NGOs reported that no trafficking victims were detained, fined, or jailed for unlawful acts committed as a result of their being trafficked. The government encouraged victims to participate in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking and at least one victim did so during the reporting period.

Prevention

The Icelandic government made limited progress on trafficking prevention. Although there were no specific anti-trafficking awareness campaigns in Iceland during the reporting period, public awareness of trafficking continued to increase during the reporting period due to media reports about trafficking cases, a government conference featuring an anti-trafficking panel, and anti-trafficking training. In public appearances by high level government officials, the government also continued to recognize that trafficking remained a problem in the country. The government coordinated its anti-trafficking activities through its Specialist and Coordination Team for Human Trafficking, and followed the course of improvement set forth in its 2009-2012 National Action Plan. It did not publish a public report on its anti-trafficking activities. The government did, however, provide anti-trafficking financial assistance to the Government of Belarus for a project administered by the Icelandic Red Cross and to the OSCE to produce a documentary about labor trafficking. In June 2010, the Government of Iceland ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

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