Last Updated: Thursday, 26 November 2015, 08:53 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Macau

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 12 June 2007
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Macau, 12 June 2007, available at: [accessed 27 November 2015]
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)

Macau is a destination territory for the trafficking of women and girls from the Chinese mainland, Mongolia, Russia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Central Asia for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Foreign and mainland Chinese women and girls, many of whom are independent operators, are sometimes deceived into migrating voluntarily to the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) for employment opportunities and then induced into sexual servitude through debt bondage, coercion, or force. Mongolian authorities and NGOs cite Macau as the primary destination for Mongolian girls and women trafficked for sexual exploitation. These women are often confined in massage parlors and illegal brothels operating under the control or protection of Macau-based organized crime syndicates.

Macau does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Macau is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a second consecutive year because the determination that it has made significant efforts to eliminate trafficking is based on its commitment of future action over the coming year, namely the review of current anti-trafficking laws with the intent to address existing gaps and more vigorous anti-trafficking law enforcement action. Macau authorities have not yet recognized the full extent of the significant trafficking problem in the MSAR, although they took steps to review existing laws in order to identify gaps dealing with trafficking and to criminalize and adequately punish all forms of trafficking, while offering legal protections for victims of trafficking. Macau authorities continue to view migrant girls and women involved in the commercial sex trade as "willing participants," despite regular reports from other governments and NGOs indicating that a significant share of these females are in the sex trade under conditions of debt bondage, coercion, or force.


Macau authorities demonstrated marginal efforts to identify and punish crimes of trafficking in the MSAR over the reporting period. Macau does not prohibit all forms of trafficking, though trafficking of persons from Macau to outside destinations is criminalized by Article 7 of its Law on Organized Crime, which is rarely used as there have been no identified cases of outbound trafficking from Macau. Article 153 of Macau's Criminal Code criminalizes the sale or purchase of a person with the intent of placing that person in a state of slavery, for which punishment is sufficiently stringent – 10 to 20 years' imprisonment – but which also has rarely been used. Kidnapping and rape statutes could be used to punish sex trafficking crimes, and they prescribe sufficiently stringent punishments of 3 to 12 years' imprisonment, though these too are rarely used for trafficking crimes. There were no reported investigations of trafficking crimes, or prosecutions or convictions of trafficking offenders during the reporting period. During the year, Macau authorities reported 10 cases involving 17 women, who complained of being brought to the MSAR under false pretenses and forced into prostitution, although no one was prosecuted. A separate case of trafficking was reported by a newspaper in Macau – the prostitution of a 15-year-old mainland Chinese girl in a brothel – but it is not known if the exploiter in the case was ever punished. Regarding labor trafficking, in March 2007, one mainland woman was arrested for allegedly deceiving three friends out of approximately $9,000 for import-labor jobs in Macau. The case was transferred to the Public Prosecutor's Office for further investigation. During the year, outside NGOs and foreign governments reported on specific cases of women trafficked to Macau from Russia, Mongolia, and the Philippines.


Macau did not make significant progress in protecting victims of trafficking over the reporting period. Macau authorities neither offered victims dedicated services nor implemented systematic efforts to identify and refer for assistance victims among vulnerable populations, such as the 1,800 women arrested for prostitution violations in 2006, of which 1,600 were from the mainland and the remaining 200 were foreigners. The Macau authorities do not encourage victims to participate in investigations or prosecutions. While women from the mainland who are subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in the commercial sex trade occasionally escape with the help of Macau police or service agencies, most foreign women, such as those from Mongolia, Russia, Thailand and the Philippines, find it extremely difficult to escape given the lack of services in their respective languages and the lack of their governments' diplomatic representation in Macau. Moreover, the control of organized crime organizations over Macau's lucrative sex trade prevents MSAR efforts to provide victims with witness protection should they wish to participate in a prosecution of the trafficking offender. Victims are not offered legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they face hardship or retribution. Victims detained for immigration violations were usually deported.


Macau authorities did not make any discernable efforts to raise public awareness of the dangers of trafficking or to encourage the public to report suspected trafficking crimes. MSAR officials continued to maintain the position that Macau does not have a significant trafficking problem and that the vast majority of females in prostitution in Macau are adult women who are willing participants in the sex trade.

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