U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Czech Republic
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||14 June 2004|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Czech Republic, 14 June 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d8081a.html [accessed 27 March 2015]|
Czech Republic (Tier 1)
The Czech Republic is a source, transit, and destination country for women trafficked from the former Soviet Union (in particular, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova), Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Asia into the Czech Republic and onward to Western Europe, and to a lesser extent, the United States, Japan, and Mexico for sexual exploitation. Small numbers of Czech men are trafficked to the United States and small numbers of men from former Soviet Union are trafficked to the Czech Republic for forced labor. Foreign and Czech women are also trafficked within the country.
The Government of the Czech Republic fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. In 2003, the government approved a National Strategy of Combating Trafficking in Human Beings for the Purpose of Sexual Exploitation, cooperated extensively with European governments in investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases, conducted strategic studies on the nature of trafficking in the Czech Republic, and launched a pilot program to improve victim assistance. But convictions and sentences remain low. Czech authorities should use trafficking legislation to give stronger penalties to convicted traffickers. The government should also expand the victim assistance pilot program nationwide, as planned, and provide the necessary funds. The Czech Government is considering the submission to its Parliament of a legislative proposal to regulate prostitution, which can contribute to the phenomenon of trafficking for sexual exploitation.
The Government of the Czech Republic specifically criminalizes the trafficking of individuals for the purpose of sexual exploitation, and the Cabinet has recently approved for submission to Parliament criminal code amendments to criminalize other forms of trafficking, such as trafficking for forced labor. Currently, Czech authorities prosecute forced labor cases under human-smuggling provisions. A special division of the Organized Crime Investigation Unit of the State Police is specifically trained and dedicated to trafficking crimes. This unit is authorized to use special investigative techniques such as electronic surveillance and undercover operations. During the reporting period, Czech authorities arrested 19 and convicted five other individuals under trafficking statues. Of the five convicted, only one received a prison sentence of one to five years; four received conditional sentences, akin to suspended sentences. Czech authorities also arrested 103 and convicted 80 individuals under pimping statutes, some of whom may be involved in trafficking. No government officials were indicted or convicted for corruption in connection with trafficking, but NGOs have reported victims' concerns about the involvement of individual border police officers facilitating border crossings for traffickers. The Czech Government cooperated extensively with other Central and Eastern European governments in investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases. The Czech Republic participated in seven cooperative international investigations in 2003, and efforts with Austria, Germany, and Spain resulted in trafficking convictions. The Ministry of Justice extradited 117 individuals during the reporting period, some of whom were extradited on trafficking charges to Austria, Germany, Bulgaria, and Serbia and Montenegro.
Under the current Czech system, victims who are willing to cooperate with police may be granted temporary residence in anonymous safe houses run by NGOs, a work permit, and access to social assistance. The government provided funding to NGOs to help victims find shelter and healthcare assistance. The Czech Republic's primary NGO on trafficking issues provided shelter and care to 30 victims and counseling to 350 victims in 2003. During the reporting period, some victims were treated as illegal immigrants and expressed fear of testifying due to safety concerns. In a major effort to address these issues and improve victim protection, the Czech Republic launched a victim assistance pilot program in October 2003 that is expected to go nationwide following a six-month trial period and evaluation. Under this pilot program, currently involving 10 individuals, trafficking victims receive a 30-day grace period for assistance and counseling during which a victim can decide whether to cooperate with the Czech police. Foreign victims who choose not to cooperate will be offered voluntary return to their home country. The Czech Government's initiation of the victim assistance pilot program is currently funded by the UN, but the Czech Government plans to fund it following the trial period. The government continued to fund a local branch of an international organization to assist victim repatriation.
Partially funded by the Ministry of Justice, NGOs continued the successful primary and secondary school effort to educate Czech youth about the risks of working abroad and the ways that traffickers entrap women. The Foreign Ministry trained some consular officers in trafficking awareness and cooperation with NGOs. Czech consular officers in Romania, Bulgaria, Russian, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan ran joint projects with an international organization to make certain visa applicants aware of the risks of trafficking. The Czech Republic helped sponsor trafficking-related projects abroad, including a victim shelter in Moldova and an information campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Czech Republic approved its National Strategy of Combating Trafficking in Human Beings for the Purpose of Sexual Exploitation in September 2003. The Czech Government signed a bilateral agreement with the Slovak Republic in January 2004 on joint border control that allows for greater exchange of information on cross-border crime, including trafficking. The Czech Republic has also instituted a new visa foil with increased security features.