Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 April 2014, 14:04 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Romania

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Romania, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee5037.html [accessed 17 April 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.

Romania (Tier 2)

Romania is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and women and children subjected to sex trafficking. Romanian men, women, and children are subjected to forced labor in agriculture and manufacturing, as well as some forced begging in Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, Greece, Finland, Israel, Germany, Slovenia, the United Kingdom (UK), Cyprus, Australia, France, Belgium, and the United States. A large proportion of the children forced to beg in Western European countries were Romanian victims of Roma ethnicity. Men, women, and children from Romania are victims of forced prostitution in Italy, Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Greece, Germany, Cyprus, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Denmark, Brazil, Norway, Hungary, Slovenia, and France. Forced labor and sex trafficking within the country claim Romanian men, women, and children as victims; this includes forced begging and forced petty theft. There were reports that ethnic Roma criminal groups in Romania exploited Romanians throughout Europe. Romania is a destination country for a small number of women from Moldova, Colombia, and France who are forced into prostitution and for Honduran men subjected to forced labor. The majority of identified Romanian victims are victims of forced labor, including forced begging. The number of Romanian boys subjected to sex trafficking increased.

The Government of Romania does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Over the reporting period, the government increased the number of victims identified and assisted and amended its human trafficking law to explicitly prohibit forced begging. Despite evidence of a large number of Romanian labor trafficking victims, the government did not indicate whether it investigated, prosecuted, or convicted any labor trafficking offenders. Additionally, there were reports that prosecutors brought prostitution charges against trafficking victims.

Recommendations for Romania: Restore government funding for trafficking victim assistance programs, including grants for service-providing NGOs; take measures to identify trafficking victims prior to arrest to ensure that no victims are punished for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; improve the reporting of data on trafficking crimes prosecuted under Law No. 678/2001 and other relevant laws by disaggregating sex and labor trafficking offenses; collect data on sentences imposed on convicted trafficking offenders; vigorously investigate and prosecute acts of trafficking-related complicity allegedly committed by government officials, and punish officials convicted of such crimes with prison sentences; demonstrate efforts to investigate and punish acts of labor trafficking and efforts to assist victims of labor trafficking; reduce delays in trials; improve efforts to identify potential victims among vulnerable populations such as undocumented migrants, foreign workers, Roma populations, and children in begging; continue to provide victim sensitivity training for judges; continue to increase victim referrals to NGO service providers by government officials; improve inter-ministerial communication and coordination on trafficking; and improve the capacity of local governments to assist victims through training of local officials and increased communication and guidance from the National Association Against Trafficking in Persons (NAATIP).

Prosecution

The Romanian government demonstrated mixed law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Romania prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons through Law No. 678/2001, which prescribes penalties of three to 15 years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes such as rape. The Romanian authorities amended this trafficking law in 2010 to specifically prohibit forced begging. In 2010, Romanian authorities investigated 717 human trafficking cases, in contrast to 759 cases investigated in 2009. The government prosecuted 407 and convicted 203 trafficking offenders in 2010, compared with 303 offenders prosecuted and 302 convicted in 2009. The government reported that 145 of the 203 offenders convicted in 2010 were sentenced to terms in prison, whereas 58 trafficking offenders received sentences without jail terms. The government did not report the sentences imposed on convicted traffickers and did not report the number of labor trafficking cases investigated or prosecuted. Some observers noted that many judges had a low understanding of trafficking in persons, perhaps contributing to the slow pace of trafficking trials with some cases still pending from 2005. Romanian authorities reported investigating and detaining a police officer for recruiting female children for forced prostitution. The officer was held in protective custody as the investigation continued. The government also investigated two members of a major political party for sex trafficking; these members did not hold public office. The government did not report any prosecutions, convictions, or sentences of government officials complicit in human trafficking crimes. In a UK trial of Romanian traffickers, lawyers claimed that Romanian police had been aware of child trafficking for years, but did not take action to suppress the trade until forced to do so by law enforcement in the UK. During the year, Romanian officials pursued joint trafficking investigations in partnership with counterparts in Norway, Switzerland, France, and Sweden.

Protection

The Government of Romania demonstrated mixed efforts to protect and assist victims of trafficking during the reporting period. For a second consecutive year, the government failed to provide funding to NGOs providing victim protection services. The lack of government funding jeopardized victim care. The hiatus in funding forced the closure of several trafficking shelters across the country, leaving many victims vulnerable and without services. Nevertheless, the government reported the identification of 1,154 victims in 2010, a substantial increase from the 780 victims reportedly identified in 2009. The government continued to operate its National Identification and Referral Mechanism, which provided a formal protocol for referrals between law enforcement and other institutions. Out of the 1,154 victims identified, 544 received victim services; 451 victims received government-funded care, whereas 93 victims received care from independently funded NGOs. This was an increase from 2009, in which 365 victims reportedly received government-funded care, and 32 victims received care from NGOs not funded by the government. Observers noted that the government had difficulty identifying victims of labor trafficking, including Roma victims of trafficking, some of whom did not approach police out of fear of traffickers' reprisals. Law enforcement officials sometimes coerced victims to participate in prosecutions. In 2010, 1,277 victims participated in prosecutions of trafficking offenders. This was a significant increase from the 158 trafficking victims who reportedly participated in prosecutions in 2009. The government reported that this increase in participation may be due to greater trust in the system by victims, the success of prevention campaigns, and better coordination with NGOs and other partners during the criminal proceedings. NGOs reported that at least one victim was jailed for a prostitution offense, though she was formally identified as a victim of trafficking during court hearings, released, and referred to NGO assistance. Foreign victims were permitted a 90-day reflection period to remain in the country; however, neither of the two foreign victims used this reflection period. Also, no victims applied for or were granted a temporary residence permit to remain in the country until completion of law enforcement investigations and prosecutions. The government did not offer foreign trafficking victims long-term alternatives to their removal to countries where they faced retribution or hardship.

Prevention

The Government of Romania improved its anti-trafficking prevention efforts during the reporting period. It contributed modest funding for several joint NGO public awareness campaigns on human trafficking. In coordination with the governments of Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, and the European Commission, Romania co-financed a prevention campaign to raise awareness about human trafficking among Romanian citizens considering working abroad. This regional campaign included radio and television broadcasts, press articles, and school training activities. The government also carried out awareness-raising activities in coordination with the European Union's Anti-Trafficking Day in October, including distributing leaflets on trafficking, organizing round tables, and conducting activities in elementary and high schools. The government coordinated its anti-trafficking efforts through NAATIP; its activities included overseeing prevention and protection efforts and publishing a quarterly report on Romania's anti-trafficking efforts. The government did not report specific efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts.

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