Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Portugal

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 11 June 2003
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Portugal, 11 June 2003, available at: [accessed 29 May 2016]
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.

Portugal (Tier 1)

Portugal is primarily a destination country for trafficked persons from Ukraine, Moldova, Russia, Romania, Lithuania, and Belarus, as well as Brazil, Angola and Cape Verde, for the purposes of forced and exploited labor of men and to a lesser extent, sexual exploitation of women. There is some evidence of internal trafficking of children from boarding schools and orphanages by an organized pedophilia ring, currently under investigation. Other trafficked persons transit mainland Portugal en route to the United Kingdom and other European countries.

The Government of Portugal fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Efforts were especially strong in the areas of prosecution and protection, with some additional prevention action taken since last year's report.


All government efforts were conducted in the absence of a central, governmental task force on trafficking, and without a constant and clear distinction between migrant smuggling and trafficking. The Portuguese Ministry of Labor continued to disseminate a "welcome guide" to teach new immigrants the basics of living and working in Portugal and prevent exploitation by traffickers. The government also helped to coordinate efforts of various non-governmental and international organization programs, including toll free hotlines and awareness-raising activities.


A new immigration act criminalizes new categories of trafficking and increases penalties for traffickers, but laws on false documentation, extortion, fraud and other criminal activities were also used to prosecute and convict traffickers. According to the Border and Foreigner Service (SEF), 329 trafficking-related investigations were undertaken in 2002-03. Of these, four Ukranians were sentenced from two and a half to nine years for related crimes; 3 Portuguese citizens were sentenced between seven and 15 years for involvement in a human trafficking network of 3,000 victims; and 16 defendants were charged with forced labor, trafficking and kidnapping of more than 300 Brazilian and Moldovan women forced into prostitution. The government trains its law enforcement officers on trafficking, coordinates well with Interpol and Europol and participates in occasional joint trainings; however, overall law enforcement efforts were hindered by jurisdictional rivalries. The government increased its border monitoring at the airport, but control over the land border – where the vast majority of traffickers and their victims enter the country – was weaker. The government is currently working with the governments of Germany, Italy and Spain to develop an organized crime database under Europol that will better track cross-country movement of human traffickers and other criminals, mostly from Ukraine and Moldova. The government employs special investigative techniques to investigate trafficking cases, and offers legal residency as an incentive for victim participation. The government investigates its officials where it has evidence of their involvement in trafficking persons. Judges instituted longer sentences of traffickers amid public pressure to address the spread of organized crime.


The rights of victims are respected, and the government provides legal residence status to victims who cooperate with authorities, and provides trafficking victim assistance. While most illegal immigrants are either quickly deported or asked to leave the country, new legal provisions allow the government to bypass residency visa requirements for victims who assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers. The government provided witness protection and relocation for involvement in trafficking cases and offered some temporary shelter to victims. The Portuguese Border Authority subsidizes the voluntary repatriation and reintegration assistance of an international organization. The government introduced stronger child protection measures as a result of extensive media attention and public outrage at the recent discovery of an organized pedophilia ring trafficking children from boarding schools and orphanages. The government also supports NGOs via its Health, Education and Labor Ministries, including informing trafficking victims of their legal rights and assisting in their integration into Portuguese society.

Search Refworld