U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Poland
|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 - Poland, 14 June 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d811c.html [accessed 18 December 2014]|
Poland (Tier 1)
Poland is a source, transit, and destination country primarily for women and girls trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Women and girls are trafficked to Western Europe, particularly Germany, Italy, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Japan, and Israel. Some internal trafficking also occurs. Individuals trafficked to and through Poland mostly originate from countries east and southeast of Poland, including Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Belarus, Moldova, and Russia. Polish enforcement authorities believe that an increasing number of victims are trafficked to Italy.
The Government of Poland fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government enacted new legislation in 2003 to protect victims, and it increased law enforcement efforts. But Poland should press frontline officials to identify victims and facilitate their access to assistance, rather than deporting them. Poland also should criminalize the prostitution of minors less than 18 years of age and provide greater resources to law enforcement authorities. While Poland is recognized for its increased enforcement efforts, continued progress will be important in the coming year to increase assistance to trafficking victims and enhance trafficking prevention.
Polish anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts were steady over the reporting period. Its criminal code prohibits trafficking for sexual and non-sexual exploitation. The penalties for trafficking are sufficiently severe. The government investigates some trafficking cases, although police and border guards are hampered by a lack of resources. Officials rarely utilized covert operations in conducting trafficking investigations. Polish authorities arrested 134 persons on trafficking charges, more than three times the number arrested in 2002, and initiated 30 prosecutions. The most recent conviction statistics, from 2002, indicate that the government convicted 120 traffickers under forced prostitution charges and 20 traffickers under human slavery charges, for an average sentence of two to four years in prison. Initial numbers in 2003 show that nine individuals have been convicted under human slavery charges for an average sentence of three to five years in prison. New-hire border guards and police officers received specialized training on trafficking investigations and victim awareness at the national law enforcement training facility. No specific evidence of trafficking cases involving government officials appeared, but there were continued reports of corruption among some police officials that may facilitate trafficking. The government cooperated with other countries on trafficking cases and the repatriation of victims. Although it did not report on specific investigations, it pointed to cooperative efforts with German, Italian, and Ukrainian authorities.
Poland made progress in strengthening its protections of trafficking victims. Legislation enacted in September 2003 allows foreign victims a one-year temporary residence permit to remain in Poland to testify against their traffickers. New legislation also allows the use of video testimony. In 2003, 16 victims testified in trials against their traffickers, up from 13 in 2002. The government awarded small grants to NGOs to assist victims. Local governments also partially funded several NGO-operated shelters. While increased training has improved some enforcement officials' abilities to differentiate between smuggling and trafficking, many victims are summarily deported. The Government of Poland regularly trains embassy and consulate officials on victim identification and assistance, and encourages them to develop relationships with anti-trafficking organizations in transit and source countries. No specific government assistance exists for repatriated nationals, though they are eligible for unemployment and welfare benefits.
The government has focused on law enforcement training to counter trafficking. It relies on and cooperates with NGOs to conduct information and education campaigns targeted at potential victims. An NGO partially funded by the government created computer simulation games and quizzes on CD-ROMs to warn against the dangers of trafficking that were distributed in the Polish public high schools. In December 2003, the Polish Prime Minister approved a national action plan to combat trafficking in persons.