2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Czech Republic
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||27 June 2011|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Czech Republic, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee84c.html [accessed 18 May 2013]|
Czech Republic (Tier 2)
The Czech Republic is a source, transit, and destination country for women who are subjected to forced prostitution, and a source, transit, and destination country for men and women subjected to forced labor. Women from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Vietnam, Mongolia, Nigeria, Honduras, and Brazil are subjected to forced prostitution in the Czech Republic and also travel through the Czech Republic en route to other European countries, including Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Greece, Finland, and the Netherlands, where they are subjected to forced prostitution. NGOs reported that Roma individuals were more vulnerable to trafficking within the country than other Czech citizens. In the past year, men and women from Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria, Romania, Vietnam, China, India, Mongolia, Georgia, and Belarus are subjected to forced labor in the construction, forestry, agricultural, manufacturing, and service sectors in the Czech Republic. Independent contractors, operating under a weak regulatory structure, recruited hundreds of foreign workers for labor in state forests and for seasonal employment in manufacturing; the contractors often confiscated the workers' passports, forced them to live in substandard conditions, and withheld pay, indicators of potential forced labor. Foreign workers, particularly those from Vietnam, are heavily indebted to labor agencies in their home countries leaving them vulnerable to trafficking; while the workers are in the Czech Republic, the agencies threaten the workers and their families back in Vietnam if the workers attempt to leave or complain about conditions in the Czech Republic. A small number of men and women from the Czech Republic are subjected to conditions of forced labor in the United Kingdom.
The Government of the Czech Republic does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Two high profile cases of labor trafficking in 2010 revealed serious problems in the government's response to labor trafficking. Through its failure to adequately control or regulate employment agencies recruiting low-skilled laborers for work in the Czech Republic, the government has tolerated an enabling environment for the exploitation and forced labor of migrants, including on state land. NGOs reported that Czech authorities failed to implement victim identification procedures sufficiently to identify victims of labor trafficking. Nevertheless, the government continued to offer identified victims of trafficking a generously funded assistance program. The Ministry of Interior continued to produce excellent analysis and reports on trafficking in persons. Efforts by multiple parts of the government resulted in the successful prosecution of perpetrators and protection of victims of sex trafficking.
Recommendations for the Czech Republic: Monitor, regulate, and – as appropriate – investigate and prosecute labor agencies to ensure that they do not exploit foreign workers through debt bondage or forced labor using deceptive labor agreements, or the use of force or threat of force; control registration requirements for employment agencies and labor cooperatives to restrict their ability to subject vulnerable populations to forced labor; modify existing trafficking identification criteria used by law enforcement authorities to clearly incorporate indicators for forced labor; train first responders, including labor inspectors, police, and state contracting officers, on these labor trafficking identification criteria; ensure that victim care, including adequate shelter, is offered equally to victims of labor trafficking, and ensure that presumed victims of trafficking are referred promptly to care; vigorously investigate and prosecute labor trafficking cases; continue to increase the number of trafficking offenders serving time in prison; collect prosecution data for Section 168 of the criminal code; consider increasing the participation of minority groups in consultation with the Inter-ministerial Coordination Group for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings; consider socially inclusive social work in Romani communities to reduce vulnerability to trafficking; and increase the number of victims referred for assistance by law enforcement personnel.
The Czech government demonstrated mixed law enforcement efforts during the reporting period, investigating and prosecuting fewer trafficking cases, but increasing the percentage of trafficking offenders sentenced to prison. The Government of the Czech Republic prohibited all forms of trafficking in persons under new Section 168 of its criminal code, prescribing punishments of up to 16 years imprisonment. These punishments are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government continued to prosecute some trafficking cases investigated as human trafficking before January 2010 under Sections 232a and 204 of the criminal code. During the reporting period, the police conducted 24 investigations of 35 offenders under Section 168, a decrease from 47 investigations conducted under older trafficking statutes in 2009. In 2010, Czech authorities prosecuted 26 trafficking offenders previously investigated under Section 232a; the authorities did not collect prosecution data for Section 168 this year. This was a significant decrease from 2009, in which the Czech government prosecuted 115 trafficking offenders. The government convicted 60 trafficking offenders in 2010: three offenders under Section 168, seven offenders under Section 232a, and 50 offenders under Section 204. This was a decrease from 2009, in which the government convicted 83 trafficking offenders. The percentage of convicted trafficking offenders sentenced to time in prison, however, increased. In 2010, 26 offenders – approximately 43 percent – were sentenced to time in prison. In 2009, only 23 percent of convicted trafficking offenders received time in prison. In 2010, 16 trafficking offenders were sentenced to between one and five years' imprisonment, and 10 offenders received prison sentences greater than five years. The highest sentence awarded to a trafficking offender was 7.5 years. Czech authorities achieved their first labor trafficking conviction in a case in which an employment agency had procured seasonal laborers for a meat factory and agricultural work. In September 2010, the specialized anti-trafficking unit of the police organized a seminar in Prague on trafficking for experts from Ukraine, Romania, and Slovakia. The specialized police unit also offered two methodological training sessions for regional police officers. The Czech government did not report the investigation, prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of any government officials complicit in trafficking.
The government demonstrated mixed victim protection efforts this year; although the national protection program was an effective tool to protect victims of sex trafficking, its ability to identify and assist victims of labor trafficking was weak. The government continued to fund its comprehensive Program of Support and Protection of Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings, which was available for both foreign and Czech victims and provided for both short-term and longer-term assistance. Government-funded NGOs provided shelter and care to 58 victims of trafficking in 2010, of whom at least 25 were new victims. The Czech government provided over $397,000 to NGOs for the provision of care to trafficking victims. This was a significant increase from 2009, during which the government allocated $213,000 to NGOs for victim care. The government has adopted formal victim identification procedures and a victim referral mechanism, though these do not seem to adequately include labor trafficking indicators. In 2010, the government identified and referred seven new trafficking victims for care in the program, including four victims of labor trafficking and three victims of sex trafficking. This was a decrease from 2009, during which authorities identified and referred 13 victims – eight victims of forced labor and five victims of forced prostitution. Police reported identifying an additional 76 victims of trafficking who were not referred to the program. NGOs reported that police referred fewer victims to their care than in previous years, attributing the decrease, in part, to an assessment that police did not always understand how to identify or question victims of trafficking in practice. There were reports that the police investigated cases involving hundreds of potential victims of labor trafficking, but referred only minimal numbers of victims for care in the program. In one high-profile case, authorities assisted the return of approximately 150 potential victims of labor trafficking to their home countries without adequate time or support to determine whether they were trafficking victims. The government did not penalize victims who entered the program for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked, though victims not admitted to the program were potentially vulnerable to such penalties. Foreign victims who cooperated with investigators after the initial 60-day reflection period were granted temporary residence and work visas for the duration of the relevant legal proceedings. Upon conclusion of the court proceedings, qualifying victims had the opportunity to apply for permanent residency, though no victims applied for this residency provision in 2010. The government reported that there was no residency permit otherwise available to victims of trafficking facing hardship or retribution in their home countries. The government encouraged victims of trafficking to participate in prosecutions, including by providing witness protection during trial; however, the witness safety provisions have been used only rarely in connection with trafficking cases.
The government demonstrated weak prevention efforts against labor trafficking during the reporting period, though efforts to prevent sex trafficking were stronger. Critically, the government made insufficient efforts to prevent trafficking committed by labor agencies in the Czech Republic. It awarded contracts for labor on state land to labor agencies that confiscated workers' passports and threatened workers. It permitted the registration of labor agencies under minimal controls. Although the government collaborated with NGOs on outreach to schools and migrant centers, it did not provide specific funding for any outreach efforts this year. The government did produce a brochure explaining Czech labor law. NGO experts advocated for the government to conduct an awareness-raising campaign on trafficking in persons, particularly labor trafficking, because there was low public awareness of labor trafficking. The government organized its anti-trafficking efforts through the Ministry of Interior and through the Inter-ministerial Coordination Group for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings. The National Rapporteur's office at the Ministry of Interior prepared a comprehensive annual report on anti-trafficking patterns and programs, which it released publicly. The government funded a hotline to identify victims of trafficking. The government took no formal steps to reduce demand for commercial sex acts. The government delivered anti-trafficking training to Czech soldiers prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.