U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Belgium
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||3 June 2005|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Belgium, 3 June 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d83123.html [accessed 29 April 2016]|
Belgium (Tier 1)
Belgium is a destination and transit country for trafficked persons. The majority of trafficking victims in Belgium are young women primarily from Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Europe, and Asia. Particularly prominent source countries are Nigeria, Albania, Bulgaria, and China. Victims are destined for Belgium's larger cities or other European countries, usually for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Male victims are typically trafficked for exploitative labor in restaurants and sweatshops.
The Government of Belgium fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to show a well-coordinated system of protection and law enforcement, leading to increased convictions in 2004. The government took important measures to improve penalties for traffickers and streamline anti-trafficking coordination among relevant governmental entities. Expanding public awareness campaigns to target domestic demand would further strengthen Belgium's anti-trafficking efforts.
In 2004, the Government of Belgium continued its proactive and sophisticated approach to anti-trafficking law enforcement. In 2003, Belgium courts convicted 170 suspects on trafficking-related charges, an increase from 130 in 2002. The government continued to post liaison officers in source countries to assist in case development. In April 2004, it issued a directive to magistrates to prioritize cases involving violations of human dignity, violence, and young victims. In an effort to increase sentences for traffickers, the government submitted a draft bill that will strengthen and align Belgium's penalties with prevailing international practice. In 2004, the Ministry of Justice established an intranet site for use by prosecutors in pursuing traffickers. A special police unit continued to be responsible for anti-trafficking enforcement. In 2004, Belgian law enforcement teams mounted several joint operations with other counterparts in the region.
In 2004, Belgium devoted significant resources to victim-assistance programs, and police increased the number of victims referred to three specialized trafficking shelters. The 2004 Custody Act upgraded victim protection by assigning a custodian to minors who are trafficking victims and offered shelter options ranging from specialized centers to placement with individual families. Relocation services were available to victims under threats by their traffickers. NGOs reported excellent cooperation with law enforcement, and in 2004 the three shelters cared for 893 victims. The government continued to provide victims a 45-day "reflection" period of care, during which they can consider whether to assist in the investigation of their traffickers; subsequent government protection is linked to a victim's willingness to testify. The government continued to repatriate those who choose not to cooperate. The government generally approved long-term residency and work permits for cooperating victims. In extraordinary cases of proven hardship, victims may qualify for a residence permit on humanitarian grounds.
The government continued to take innovative and proactive measures to monitor and improve its legislative and institutional response to trafficking. In May 2004, the government restructured its anti-trafficking efforts, instituting coordination cells composed of representatives from all relevant ministerial departments. During the reporting period, the government issued a report reviewing measures it took to prevent the recurrence of fraudulent visa issuance by a Belgian Embassy and consulate as happened in the 1990's. In September 2004, the government co-sponsored an awareness-raising campaign to warn and educate Belgian travelers about child sex tourism. Belgium continued to fund regional and global anti-trafficking prevention campaigns in source countries.