U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Latvia
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||5 June 2006|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Latvia, 5 June 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d89829.html [accessed 2 June 2015]|
Latvia (Tier 2)
Latvia is a source and, to a lesser extent, a transit country for women and some children trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Latvian women are trafficked to Germany, Spain, the U.K., and Norway. Women from Lithuania are transited through Latvia to Western Europe. In one instance, seven possible trafficking victims from Somalia were intercepted en route to a Nordic country. The government acknowledged reports that the number of trafficking victims in Latvia continued to increase over the last year.
The Government of Latvia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. While the government has continued to implement the provisions of its National Action Plan, a lack of political support from several ministries has constrained Latvia's overall progress in addressing trafficking. Convicted traffickers continued to receive low sentences, and assistance provided to victims by government institutions was inadequate. Latvia should train more judges and prosecutors on trafficking awareness. The government should also consider formalizing a mechanism for trafficking victims to request and receive social services and rehabilitation from government ministries.
Latvian law prohibits both sexual exploitation and non-sexual exploitation, although the law does not specifically criminalize labor exploitation. Internal trafficking is also criminalized. In 2005, law enforcement authorities investigated 23 trafficking cases, a decrease from 30 investigations in 2004. The Government of Latvia does not have centralized data on prosecutions separate from convictions. The courts increased trafficking convictions in 2005; one person was convicted of trafficking and 28 people were convicted of recruiting victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation abroad. Although the law provides for sufficient penalties to deter trafficking, the courts continued to administer relatively low prison sentences. During the reporting period, one person was sentenced to eight years in prison, five people were sentenced to less than five years in prison, and 14 people had property confiscated as a penalty. Approximately 160 judges and prosecutors participated in a five-part training course on trafficking to raise awareness and improve their understanding of the severe nature of human trafficking.
The government made some efforts to improve victim assistance and protection over the past year. Police and municipal social workers referred victims to NGO shelters. Although cooperation among NGOs in Riga improved during the reporting period, more should be done to encourage authorities in other cities to enhance their collaboration with NGOs, which provide the majority of victim assistance and rehabilitation. The police had no requests for witness protection from trafficking victims. The Ministry of Interior worked closely with local NGOs and international organizations to develop and implement the anti-trafficking project "Open Labor Market for Women." In accordance with the project, the ministry monitors all government institutions involved in victim assistance in an effort to improve the victim referral process and quality of victim care. The Ministry of Welfare has allocated funding in the 2006 budget to train more than 100 government and NGO specialists in providing victim rehabilitation services.
Although the government failed to establish an independent anti-trafficking information and education campaign, government officials supported NGOs working on trafficking prevention by attending NGO trainings and speaking at trafficking events. High school teachers participated in several trafficking prevention training sessions. The Riga City Police created a new anti-child prostitution taskforce mandated to prevent the involvement of minors in prostitution. The Border Guard is scheduled to begin a new operation in April 2006 that will trace unusual travel patterns of foreign nationals across Latvian borders; it is believed this will help detect trafficking routes and identify potential victims.