Last Updated: Monday, 15 September 2014, 14:12 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Poland

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Poland, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee5235.html [accessed 16 September 2014]
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.

Poland (Tier 1)

Poland is a source, transit, and destination country for men and women subjected to conditions of forced labor and for women and children subjected to sex trafficking. Men and women from Poland are subjected to conditions of forced labor in the United Kingdom, Belgium, and the Scandinavian countries. Women and children from Poland are subjected to sex trafficking within Poland and also in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and Italy. Women and children from Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Belarus are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation in Poland. Polish men are forced under threat of violence to commit crimes, such as financial fraud, in Germany. In a more recently identified trend, Poland is a destination for migrant men and women from Azerbaijan, China, Nepal, the Philippines, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Thailand, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and West Africa who may be forced to work, in sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, and food processing. Employers in Poland sometimes refuse to pay migrant workers and anonymously report them to the Border Guard for visa violation and potential deportation. Women and men are trafficked through Poland from Ukraine, Bulgaria, Belarus, Romania, and Moldova to Western Europe.

The Government of Poland fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. In 2010, the government revised its anti-trafficking laws to improve their clarity, their coverage of all forms of trafficking in persons, and ease of applicability. The government continued to fund victim protection mechanisms in all areas of the country. The government, however, continued to face challenges in identifying victims of trafficking, particularly those in forced labor, and ensuring that the victims' rights were universally respected. Several identified victims were prosecuted by the government. NGOs reported concerns that the reflection period was rarely used in practice. A significant portion of convicted trafficking offenders were not sentenced to time in prison.

Recommendations for Poland: Fully implement the standard operating procedures for victim identification and adapt the referral mechanism to identify victims of labor trafficking better; ensure that all first-responders, including labor inspectors and border guards, have a clear mandate to identify and refer potential victims to care in accordance with standard operating procedures; enhance training of the lower-level police officers most likely to come into contact with trafficking victims; ensure that identified victims of trafficking are not penalized for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; take steps to ensure that the government's reflection period is offered to all victims, and that victims are not deported for initially refusing to be interviewed; take steps to ensure that a majority of trafficking offenders serve time in prison; continue to increase the shelter system's capacity to assist victims, including men and children; continue trafficking training for both prosecutors and judges; conduct additional awareness campaigns to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts; and organize training on human trafficking for peacekeepers preparing for deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.

Prosecution

The Government of Poland made significant improvements in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, primarily by revising, in May 2010, its human trafficking laws to improve their clarity and to define specifically human trafficking offenses in the criminal code. Poland prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons through the newly enacted Articles 115.22 and 115.23, and 189a, which replaced Article 253 and Article 204 Section 4, Article 204 Section 3, and Article 203 of the criminal code. Prescribed punishments under the revised statutes range from a minimum of three years' up to 15 years' imprisonment; sentences are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In January 2011, the government transferred the anti-trafficking unit of the Polish National Police to the Central Bureau of Investigation to facilitate coordination and supervision of trafficking cases in all 17 regional police anti-trafficking units. Although the prosecutor's office does not have a specialized anti-trafficking unit, an anti-trafficking consultant was assigned to advise prosecutors responsible for trafficking cases.

In 2010, Polish police investigated 95 alleged trafficking offenses, down from 105 investigations in 2009. The government prosecuted 77 and convicted 28 trafficking offenders under Articles 203 and 253 in 2010 – convictions under the new statutes were not reported – in contrast to 79 prosecution and 52 convictions in 2009. Post-appeal sentences, which are considered final, are collected for trafficking offenses. In 2009, the most recent year for which post-appeal sentences were available, trafficking offenders received sentences ranging from three months to 10-15 years' imprisonment, which is the highest possible punishment for trafficking under Poland's criminal code. This was an increase from 2008, during which the highest sentence issued to a trafficking offender was five years in prison. Nevertheless, in 2009, approximately 52 percent of convicted offenders received suspended sentences, compared with 53 percent in 2008. During 2010, the government did not report the investigations, prosecutions, convictions, or sentences of any public officials complicit in human trafficking. The Polish government participated in several bilateral task forces to share law enforcement information on human trafficking and collaborate on active investigations with other government, including those of Italy, Belgium, and Germany.

During the year, the government provided training on victim identification and care, and trafficking investigation and prosecution to judges, labor inspectors, social workers, border guards, consular officers, and police. For example, in December 2010, the National School for Judges and Prosecutors organized two training sessions on legal and criminal aspects of human trafficking for 95 judges. In September, Polish authorities organized a multi-day workshop for police and Border Guard regional anti-trafficking coordinators. In November, the Labor Ministry conducted seminars on labor trafficking for 73 employees of municipal and provincial labor offices. The government continued to train social workers at crisis intervention centers to identify and care for trafficking victims.

Protection

The Government of Poland sustained its anti-trafficking victim protection efforts in 2010, despite continuing problems with victim identification. The government, NGOs, and academic experts on human trafficking recognized that victim identification remained a major challenge for Poland's anti-trafficking program. During 2010, the government identified 85 victims of trafficking, a decrease from 206 trafficking victims it identified in 2009. Nevertheless, NGOs reported identifying and caring for an additional 253 victims of trafficking during 2010; approximately half of these were victims of labor trafficking and half were victims of sex trafficking. The government reportedly lacked the tools and expertise to identify labor trafficking victims and labor inspectors reported they did not have a clear mandate to investigate labor trafficking cases. International organizations reported that some government officials had insufficient understanding of established victim identification and protection procedures. The weakness in government identification translated to lapses in victim care. An international organization reported that in at least one case in 2010, labor trafficking victims were inappropriately detained and charged by authorities. In a case involving forced labor in illegal cigarette production, Azerbaijani victims' salaries were withheld and their families were threatened. Despite initially identifying the men as potential trafficking victims, Polish authorities charged the workers as members of an organized crime group. In 2010, the government allocated approximately $250,000 for victim assistance in contrast to $298,000 in 2009. The government funded a National Intervention-Consultation Center for Victims of Trafficking to provide assistance to foreign and Polish victims of trafficking. The center hosted a trafficking hotline, provided victims with comprehensive assistance resources, and offered a shelter for adult female trafficking victims. Government-funded NGOs provided medical, psychological, legal assistance, protective services, food, clothing, and crisis intervention. The government designated and partially funded 18 other crisis centers across the country as shelters for trafficking victims. There were no shelters designated specifically for male trafficking victims, although the government housed male victims of trafficking in co-ed crisis centers, with supervision from anti-trafficking NGOs. Adult victims of trafficking were allowed to leave the shelters unchaperoned and at will.

Foreign victims of trafficking, whether third country nationals or EU citizens, are entitled to receive the same social welfare benefits provided to Polish citizens, including crisis intervention assistance, shelter, food, clothing, and a living allowance. The government reported offering foreign victims a three-month reflection period to deliberate whether to cooperate with the criminal process. However, in 2010, no trafficking victims accepted the reflection period; international organizations raised concerns that foreign victims who declined to participate in law enforcement investigations were not classified as trafficking victims or offered the reflection period and attendant services. In 2010, the Government of Poland set up its first regional inter-agency anti-trafficking team, bringing together representatives of national and local governments, law enforcement, social workers, and NGOs, to enhance coordinated efforts and victim-centered responses during investigations. The government encouraged victims to participate in criminal proceedings, including through the use of videoconference technology to secure testimony from victims no longer in Poland.

Prevention

The government sustained its anti-trafficking prevention efforts during the reporting period. The Ministry of Interior pursued partnerships with NGOs to educate schoolchildren on trafficking, training teachers from four regions to discuss human trafficking with their students. The government also provided guidance to potential Polish emigrants on the dangers of human trafficking through an advisory guide. The government focused on regions vulnerable to trafficking to fund broader information campaigns including billboards, posters, opinion polls, and conferences. The Polish government hosted an annual national conference for combating and preventing human trafficking in observance of the EU's Anti-Trafficking Day. The government organized its anti-trafficking activities through its Inter-Ministerial Work Group and its National Action Plan for Combating and Preventing Human Trafficking and gathered statistical data on cases of trafficking and victims identified. However, the government did not have an independent national rapporteur on trafficking and the comprehensive governmental report on trafficking that was published in 2009 has not been updated. The government did not organize specific human trafficking training to Polish troops being deployed abroad on international peacekeeping missions, although human trafficking was included as part of the Standard Generic Training Module, under which all military personnel were trained. The government did not conduct a specific campaign to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts targeted at potential clients of prostitution, nor did it organize any programs to reduce any participation of Polish nationals in child sex tourism.

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