2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Slovak Republic
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||19 June 2012|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Slovak Republic, 19 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fe30c9837.html [accessed 27 January 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. Slovak men and women are subjected to forced labor in the agriculture and construction in Western Europe, primarily the United Kingdom. Slovak children are subjected to forced criminal behavior in the United Kingdom. Slovak women are subjected to sex trafficking in the Netherlands, Slovenia, Denmark, Germany, and other areas of Europe. Ukrainian and Romanian men and women are 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 from socially segregated rural settlements were disproportionately vulnerable to human trafficking, as they were underemployed, undereducated and lack of access to quality education due in part from segregation specialized schools, and subjected to discrimination by law enforcement personnel. Traffickers, particularly prominent individuals in Roma communities, found victims through family and village networks, preying on individuals with large debts owed to usurers or individuals with disabilities.
The Government of the Slovak Republic fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Improvements, however, are needed. The government collaborated closely with NGOs to offer comprehensive care to trafficking victims through the National Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons. The government successfully convicted a former mayor who had been complicit in the sex trafficking of Slovak women, sentencing the mayor to four-and-a-half years' imprisonment. The government also launched a successful campaign to raise awareness of labor trafficking. Nevertheless, government efforts to make victim identification by police more proactive remained weak. Despite indications of labor trafficking in Slovakia, police again failed to identify any foreign victims in the country. Sentencing for trafficking offenders decreased; of nine convicted offenders, only three received non-suspended prison sentences. Finally, the government does not have any legal provisions that would allow authorities not to prosecute trafficking victims for crimes they committed as a result of their trafficking. NGOs did not report any cases of trafficking victims having been prosecuted for such crimes.
Recommendations for the Slovak Republic: Greatly increase efforts to identify trafficking victims proactively; increase efforts to identify trafficking victims in Roma communities, including through greater outreach by law enforcement personnel; identify children under age 18 who are engaged in prostitution as trafficking victims; increase proactive victim identification at labor sites, including agriculture and construction; improve the functioning of the Expert Group by ensuring that government agencies are accountable for their roles in fulfilling the government's anti-trafficking plan; strengthen procedures for identification, referral, and care of child trafficking victims; adopt legal provisions that would permit authorities not to prosecute trafficking victims for offenses compelled as a result of their trafficking; 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 that 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 training programs address labor trafficking; adopt procedures to permit authorities to prosecute trafficking in cases where the victim has not filed a complaint or withdraws a complaint; ensure the provision of adequate specialized shelter for male victims of trafficking; and conduct a demand-reduction awareness campaign to educate Slovaks and persons visiting the country about the potential links between prostitution, exploitation, and trafficking.
The Government of Slovakia displayed mixed efforts to investigate and prosecute human trafficking offenses during the reporting period. Nevertheless, sentences imposed on convicted trafficking offenders weakened during the year. The Slovak Republic prohibits all forms of trafficking through Sections 179, 180, and 181 of its criminal code, which prescribe penalties of between four years' and life imprisonment for violations. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and are commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In 2010, Slovak officials investigated approximately 19 cases of trafficking in persons, including at least one labor trafficking case. In 2010, Slovak authorities investigated approximately 15 cases of trafficking in persons. The high-profile case cited in the 2011 TIP Report involving approximately 340 forced laborers from Ukraine and Romania remained pending, and the four alleged traffickers involved in the case were held in prison awaiting prosecution. Slovak authorities initiated the prosecution of one trafficking offender, in contrast to five trafficking offenders prosecuted in 2010. Nine trafficking offenders were convicted in 2011, an increase from six trafficking offenders in 2010. Nevertheless, short sentences given to convicted offenders remained a weakness of the Slovak courts; only three out of the nine offenders convicted in 2011 received prison sentences that were not suspended. The longest such sentence was four-and-a-half years' imprisonment, which was imposed on a mayor for complicity in the sex trafficking of two Slovak females. One offender was sentenced to one year in jail, and one offender was sentenced to one year and 10 months in prison. The remaining six offenders received suspended sentences. In 2010, three out of the six trafficking offenders were sentenced to time in jail. Police statistics reveal that the procurement of children was not always charged as a trafficking offense. Nevertheless, Slovak police collaborated with law enforcement officials in the United Kingdom to investigate a labor trafficking case in which Slovak individuals from socially disadvantaged communities were promised well-paid work cleaning vegetables, but instead were delivered to employers who paid them poorly for 16-hour workdays under duress. The Slovak police operation targeting the labor recruiters in the case reportedly involved approximately 100 officers.
Slovak law enforcement agencies have assigned authority for combating trafficking to the Division on Trafficking in Human Beings of the Office for Combating Organized Crime. The specialist division had 17 trained staff members. The government trained border officials on human trafficking, although a report by the Council of Europe's Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) concluded that the border guards did not subsequently take proactive measures to identify victims. The Slovak Judicial Academy continued to incorporate trafficking in persons in its curriculum of basic prosecutorial and judicial training programs. The government reported that it regularly provided training to police officers, social workers, and labor inspectors.
The Slovak government displayed mixed protection efforts during the reporting period. While it sustained close partnerships with NGOs to care for trafficking victims, proactive victim identification in Slovakia remained weak. Government care for trafficking victims was organized through the National Program of Support and Protection of Victims in Trafficking in Human Beings. The program employed a relatively low evidentiary threshold for recognizing persons as trafficking victims. Any governmental agency or nonprofit organization was empowered to identify trafficking victims. The program offered victims emergency care for up to 90 days, financial stipends, psychological assistance, health care, and interpretation. Although Slovak authorities in departments specializing in the care of children underwent training in the identification of child victims of trafficking, there were no special procedures for the referral of child trafficking victims for care. The GRETA report concluded that the care of unaccompanied minors in Slovakia needed improvement. Unaccompanied minors went missing from a children's facility, and there were suspicions that traffickers may have been involved. Nonprofit organizations, funded through the Ministry of Interior, offered specialized shelter and care for trafficking victims. The government funded assistance for 31 victims of trafficking in 2011 and for 29 victims in 2010. Seventeen of the victims assisted in 2011 were women, 13 were men, and one was a child. The victims were approximately evenly divided between sex and labor trafficking. In 2011, the Slovak government allocated the equivalent of approximately $220,500 to NGOs for anti-trafficking activities, a decrease from the equivalent of $298,000 in 2010. Only the equivalent of $120,000 of the allocated funds had been disbursed by the end of the year. Three NGOs provided specialized shelter for trafficking victims, who were allowed to leave the shelters unchaperoned and at will. The shelters were designed for the care of women. NGOs in practice found shelter and care for male trafficking victims.
Slovak law enforcement authorities have made weak efforts to proactively identify trafficking victims in the country. Police have not proactively identified any foreign victims of trafficking, despite indications of forced labor and sex trafficking in the country. Although the government encouraged victims to participate in trafficking investigations, NGOs reported that victims risked secondary victimization during the investigative process, when victims were interviewed multiple times. NGOs also reported that the National Referral Mechanism needed to be further formalized, although repatriated victims in practice were referred to care. The government offers foreign victims, upon their identification, renewable 90-day legal status in Slovakia to receive assistance and shelter and to consider whether to assist law enforcement.
The national coordinator has authority to recommend permanent residence to victims of trafficking who would face hardship or retribution if returned to their country of origin. However, no such residence permits have been issued. There were no reports that the government penalized victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked during the year, although the law allows the prosecution of trafficking victims.
The government sustained its activities to prevent trafficking, target labor trafficking, and continue outreach to Roma communities vulnerable to trafficking in persons. The government continued to fund an anti-trafficking hotline operated by IOM. In Fall 2011, the Ministry of Interior collaborated with IOM to conduct an awareness campaign targeting forced labor, including television advertisements, flyers, and special reports. The hotline received a substantial increase in calls following the advertisement campaign. The government continued to operate an information center on trafficking in persons in Eastern Slovakia, which conducted outreach to vulnerable Roma communities on trafficking in persons. Despite the center's partial mandate to coordinate the collection of data, the GRETA observed that the government's data collection efforts remained disorganized, with multiple institutions gathering information separately. The government coordinated its anti-trafficking activities through its Expert Group for the Area of the Fight against Trafficking in Human Beings, a multidisciplinary entity involving officials from various ministries, local governments, and NGOs. NGOs observed that there was little accountability for the agencies charged with fulfilling the National Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons. The government did not conduct any activities to reduce the demand for commercial sex during the year. The government provided Slovak military personnel with basic trafficking awareness training prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.