2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Slovak Republic
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||27 June 2011|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Slovak Republic, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee4b37.html [accessed 2 February 2015]|
Slovak Republic (Tier 1)
The Slovak Republic (or Slovakia) is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. The forced labor of Slovak men and women is exploited in the agricultural and construction sectors in Western Europe, primarily the United Kingdom. Slovak women are subjected to sex trafficking in the Netherlands, Germany, and other areas of Europe. Ukrainian and Romanian men and women were allegedly forced to work in the Slovak Republic. Victims are reportedly transported through the Slovak Republic from the former Soviet Union and forced into prostitution within the country and throughout Europe. Roma children, women, and men are subjected to forced begging in Switzerland and other countries in Western Europe. Roma individuals from socially segregated rural settlements were disproportionately vulnerable to human trafficking from the Slovak Republic, as they were under-employed, under-educated through segregated specialized schools, and subject to discrimination from law enforcement. Traffickers found victims through family and village networks, preying on individuals with large debts from usurers or individuals with disabilities.
The Government of the Slovak Republic fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. This year, the government achieved significant anti-trafficking successes, including increasing the percentage of trafficking cases in which convicted offenders received time in prison. The government also established a human trafficking information center in an effort to lead the region in data collection and analysis on the issue. It also instituted anti-trafficking training in the basic course for all judges and prosecutors. Nevertheless, the government's poor relations with the Roma community resulted in significant problems in victim identification and prosecutions, including a government estimate that only one-third of all trafficking cases involving Roma are investigated.
Recommendations for the Slovak Republic: Increase efforts to identify trafficking victims among Roma communities, including through greater outreach by law enforcement personnel; provide socially inclusive social work support to highly vulnerable communities to reduce the incidence of trafficking; continue training and capacity building for investigators, prosecutors and judges, to ensure trafficking crimes are vigorously investigated and prosecuted and offenders are convicted and punished with time in prison; ensure that all judicial trainings and law enforcement trainings address labor trafficking; adopt procedures to permit trafficking prosecutions in cases in which the victim has not filed a complaint or withdraws a complaint; ensure the provision of adequate specialized shelter for male victims of trafficking; expand victim identification efforts for potential foreign victims among other vulnerable populations such as women in the commercial sex sector, foreign workers, detained illegal migrants, and asylum seekers, including through NGO partnerships and labor inspections; and conduct a demand-reduction awareness campaign to educate Slovaks and clients visiting the Slovak Republic about the potential links between prostitution, exploitation, and trafficking.
The Government of Slovakia increased its efforts to investigate and prosecute human trafficking during the reporting period, including by adopting routine anti-trafficking training for all new prosecutors and judges in the country, and by improving its sentencing rate for convicted trafficking offenders. Nevertheless, challenges persisted in investigating cases of trafficking that involved Roma victims. The Slovak Republic prohibits all forms of trafficking through Sections 179, 180, and 181 of its criminal code, which prescribe penalties between four years' and life imprisonment in aggravated cases. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and are commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In 2010, Slovak officials investigated approximately 15 cases of trafficking in persons, including 13 sex trafficking cases, one of which involved the commercial sexual exploitation of a child. This was an increase from the nine trafficking cases investigated in 2009. The Slovak police investigated a significant case of forced labor involving 340 victims from Ukraine and Romania. Although the police did not initially classify the case as human trafficking, the prosecutor's office later designated the cases as human trafficking and returned it to the police for reinvestigation under the trafficking statute. The Slovak authorities initiated prosecutions of five alleged trafficking offenders in 2010, an increase from three offenders prosecuted in 2009. Six trafficking offenders were convicted in 2010, down from 10 trafficking offenders convicted in 2009. Although the number of convictions dropped, the percentage of offenders sentenced to non-suspended terms in jail rose to 50 percent in 2010. Three out of the six trafficking offenders were sentenced to time in jail, in contrast to two trafficking offenders in 2009. The three offenders sentenced to jail terms received 24, 60, and 103 months in prison. Two of the three offenders given suspended sentences agreed to trafficking convictions in plea deals. The Slovak police continued to operate a specialized anti-trafficking unit at the police headquarters and four specialized officers throughout the country. The Office of the Special Prosecutor continued its designation of a specialized prosecutor for trafficking within the anti-corruption unit.
Cooperation with and outreach to the Roma population was reportedly a major weakness in the Slovak government's anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Fewer than a third of trafficking cases involving Roma victims are estimated to be investigated by the police, because victims were afraid to file a complaint upon return to the Slovak Republic. Sources reported that trafficking victims, particularly those of Roma origin, were influenced or threatened by trafficking offenders to change testimony when cases reached the trial stage.
The government demonstrated clear improvement in judicial training. With direct involvement of the state secretary, the Slovak Judicial Academy incorporated trafficking in persons into the curriculum of basic prosecutorial and judicial trainings at the Slovak Judicial Academy in 2010. The first class of 12 prosecutors and judges completed the course in December 2010. In April and May 2010, the Government of Slovakia also funded the training of police, asylum workers, teachers, diplomats, and social workers on trafficking victim identification and care, reaching 292 trainees in 2010. The government collaborated in six international investigations on trafficking during the reporting period, involving the governments of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, and Slovenia. In April 2010, Slovak authorities charged a former mayor of a village in Eastern Slovakia with sex trafficking of young Roma women from his settlement. The case is still pending, though there were reports that the mayor applied inappropriate pressure to the two victims testifying in the case.
The government sustained its protection efforts during the reporting period, despite continuing problems with victim identification in minority communities and among labor trafficking victims. In 2010, the Slovak government provided $298,000 to NGOs for anti-trafficking activities, an increase from $275,000 provided in 2009. Three NGOs provided specialized shelter for trafficking victims. These victims were allowed to leave the shelters unchaperoned and at will. Although these shelters were designed for the care of women, one NGO secured apartments for male victims of trafficking. The government designated an NGO for specialized care of child victims of trafficking. The Slovak government continued to fund NGOs providing comprehensive assistance to victims who elected to participate in the government's National Program; these victims received financial support for a minimum of 180 days, although social support is provided throughout the duration of the criminal process. The government assisted 26 trafficking victims, in contrast to 27 in 2009. NGOs reported assisting 29 additional trafficking victims with non-government funding in 2009. These victims declined to participate in the government's program. Of the 26 participants in the national program, 15 were victims of forced labor, nine were victims of sexual exploitation, and two were victims of forced begging. Fifteen of the victims were men, 10 were women, and one was a child. It is unclear the extent to which law enforcement employed systematic efforts to proactively identify potential trafficking victims among women and girls in commercial sex sectors, including women engaged in street prostitution, erotic massage salons, escort services, or strip bars fronting for brothels in Bratislava. Victim identification in the Roma community also remains a challenge for the police. The government encouraged victims to participate in prosecutions; this year, 12 victims participated in prosecutions. The government offers foreign victims, upon their identification, a renewable 40-day legal status in Slovakia to receive assistance and shelter and to consider whether to assist law enforcement. The Slovak government reported that the National Coordinator had the authority to grant permanent residence to a victim of trafficking who would face hardship or retribution if returned to the country of origin; no permanent residence permits have ever been granted under this provision. Although the government had its first foreign victim identification, there are strong indications that the government failed to identify several other victims in the country. In January 2011, a foreign victim was initially identified under the national referral mechanism and was afforded these rights. However, the woman left the shelter after several days; law enforcement ultimately uncovered that the woman's story had likely been fabricated. In the case involving 340 alleged victims of trafficking, the police failed to identify the victims of trafficking before they were returned to their home countries, impeding care and investigation. There were no reports that the government penalized identified victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked this year, although NGOs reported that several victims were reluctant to participate in the national program out of fears of other prosecutions or abuse by the police or because they were active drug users.
The government enhanced its activities on preventing trafficking, focusing on developing new strategies to prevent trafficking in the Roma communities. In September 2010, the Government of Slovakia opened its trafficking information center in Eastern Slovakia, designed to improve information collection and strategic analysis on trafficking in persons. In part through the work of the information center, the Slovak government increased its focus on preventing trafficking among the Roma. The Ministry of Interior conducted a survey of Roma communities to determine the best methods of conducting anti-trafficking prevention activities. In total, the government allocated approximately $39,000 to perform anti-trafficking outreach to the Roma communities. The government also held 11 outreach sessions on forced labor at Roma community centers and at schools. The government funded Roma-specific posters, folders, brochures, and DVDs on trafficking.
In 2010, the government of Slovakia co-produced and distributed 4,500 copies of a pamphlet targeting potential foreign victims in Slovakia. The government continued to distribute brochures to advise Slovak citizens travelling abroad on human trafficking. The government also continued to fund a trafficking hotline operated by IOM. The National Coordinator at the Ministry of Interior coordinated intra-governmental activities on human trafficking and convened meetings of the Expert Group on Trafficking. It released a national action plan in 2011, incorporating efforts to reduce trafficking among the Roma. The government did not conduct any activities to reduce the demand for commercial sex this year. All Slovak forces received basic trafficking awareness training prior to deployment.