Last Updated: Monday, 22 January 2018, 12:53 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Denmark

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Denmark, 27 June 2011, available at: [accessed 23 January 2018]
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.

Denmark (Tier 1)

Denmark is primarily a destination and transit country for women and children from Nigeria, Eastern and Central Europe, the Baltic countries, Thailand, Southeast Asia, and South America subjected to sex trafficking. The government did not report any cases of forced labor in 2010, though authorities reported that the agriculture sector in Denmark may include elements of forced labor and highlighted that workers in domestic service, restaurants, hotels, and factories may also be vulnerable to forced labor. There were unconfirmed reports of foreign children being forced to engage in organized street crime. As a result of a 2010 inquiry, the government concluded that au pair organizations in Denmark were not being used as front companies for human trafficking; however, the report also noted that au pairs in the region are vulnerable to trafficking or other forms of exploitation, and recommended the creation of a non-profit recruitment organization to safeguard their rights. According to NGO experts, the majority of au pairs in Denmark come from the Philippines. According to NGOs, there has been a significant increase in women from Africa engaged in prostitution in Denmark, most of whom are controlled by pimps. According to local observers, these women are highly vulnerable to trafficking. The hundreds of unaccompanied foreign children who arrive in Denmark every year are also vulnerable to human trafficking. According to a 2010 ECPAT report, NGOs and police believe there are trafficked children in Denmark who remain undetected, as their traffickers keep them under close watch and are less likely to exploit them in street prostitution.

The Government of Denmark fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. During the reporting period, the government successfully prosecuted its largest sex trafficking case to date, and it strengthened the severity of some of the sentences imposed on traffickers in 2010. However, the government's emphasis on returning most foreign trafficking victims to their countries of origin may provide a disincentive for victims to cooperate with law enforcement and places victims at risk of retribution and hardship upon their return. While the government reported the possibility for trafficking victims to obtain long-term residency in Denmark via asylum, on humanitarian grounds, or in cases of family reunification, few trafficking victims are actually provided with such alternatives prior to their removal from Denmark.

Recommendations for Denmark: Develop options to widen avenues of long-term legal residency for foreign victims, including children, in line with European standards and EU guidelines, and based on their status as officially certified victims of trafficking; ensure that victims have access to asylum and other long-term legal alternatives prior to their removal to countries where they face retribution or hardship and not conditioned on a victim's consent to repatriation or as a witness in a trafficking prosecution; ensure that effective systems are in place to avoid imprisonment of presumed trafficking victims and to refer them to a crisis center for identification interviews; explore ways to enhance the role of NGOs and other front-line responders in the victim certification process, including for foreign victims without legal status in Denmark; continue efforts to vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and sentence sex and labor trafficking offenders; continue to ensure traffickers receive sentences commensurate with the heinous nature of the offense; continue to expand the government's focus on forms of labor trafficking and ensure specialized protection and assistance services are available for male and child victims; fund a broad, nationwide public awareness campaign relevant to Danish society; and consider appointment of a national anti-trafficking rapporteur or create a de facto national rapporteur via the existing Anti-Trafficking Center to enhance monitoring of anti-trafficking efforts.


The Government of Denmark demonstrated progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts in 2010. The government improved sentences for some traffickers during the reporting period and prosecuted its largest-ever sex trafficking case, successfully convicting and imposing prison sentences on all nine members of a trafficking gang, including three years' imprisonment for the two ringleaders. Denmark prohibits both sex and labor trafficking through Section 262(a) of its criminal code. Punishments prescribed for trafficking under section 262(a), up to eight years' imprisonment, and are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Authorities reported investigating 38 human trafficking-related cases in 2010, compared with 44 trafficking investigations in 2009. The government reported it prosecuted 13 and convicted 11 sex trafficking offenders under Section 262(a) in 2010, compared with prosecuting 25 suspects and convicting 11 offenders for sex trafficking in 2009. The government reported that two convicted trafficking offenders were former trafficking victims. Notably, the government significantly improved the minimum sentence handed down for trafficking in 2010; sentences ranged from 14 to 36 months' imprisonment, compared with 5 to 42 months' imprisonment in 2009. The average sentence for traffickers convicted under Section 262(a) in 2010 was 27 months' imprisonment. According to one NGO, courts regularly impose stiffer penalties for offenders convicted of robbery in Denmark, when compared with offenders convicted of sex trafficking. The government investigated one possible case of labor trafficking, though it did not identify or prosecute any labor trafficking offenders during the reporting period. The government did not report any investigations or prosecutions of trafficking-related complicity.


The Government of Denmark sustained its efforts to protect victims of trafficking in 2010. However, it continued to return foreign trafficking victims to their country of origin. While the government reported it offered asylum as a long-term legal alternative to the removal of foreign adult trafficking victims to countries where they face retribution or hardship, it granted asylum to only one trafficking victim in 2010. In the absence of either humanitarian concerns that merit an asylum application or eligibility for some other category of residence permit (such as family reunification), there were no specific legal provisions that entitled trafficking victims to apply for or receive a residence permit. The government granted two trafficking victims long-term residence permits on grounds of family reunification in 2010. According to some regional experts, Denmark's anti-trafficking framework addresses victims of trafficking as illegal migrants who are criminalized for their illegal status, and either expels or deports them. Further, trafficking victims, including children, can be subject to detention until their departure. While hailed as a prosecutorial victory by the government and NGOs, a large sex trafficking case in December 2010 was not accompanied by adequate support and protection for the eight Romanian victims in the case. The majority of the victims did not cooperate in the prosecution, out of fear of retribution from their traffickers or fear of deportation from Denmark; this was the likely outcome confirmed by the lead prosecutor in the case. The one victim who did testify was returned to Romania. The government continued to conduct proactive victim identification techniques to locate victims of trafficking; these guidelines are tailored specifically to victims of sexual exploitation. Country experts report that government-employed social workers, a key group of front-line responders, are not empowered to officially certify trafficking victims; however, the government reported a formal system is in place whereby government social services personnel can identify potential victims for certification by the appropriate government authority – the Danish Immigration Service for victims without legal residence status in Denmark and the Anti-Trafficking Center in other cases. Under this system, social workers helped to identify at least 35 out of a total 52 officially certified trafficking victims in 2010. The total figure is a slight decline from the total 54 victims certified by the government in 2009 and the 72 victims identified in 2008. Reportedly, NGOs are not permitted to formally certify foreign trafficking victims without legal status in Denmark. The government interviewed 64 potential child victims in asylum centers and youth detention centers, but did not identify any child trafficking victims in 2010. According to country experts, the limiting standards for victim identification render identification difficult, potentially resulting in some trafficking victims not being identified.

The government returned most trafficking victims to their countries of origin under its "prepared return" program, under which two victims were repatriated in 2010. According to a 2010 NGO report, victims' cooperation with law enforcement centers on their repatriation. If trafficking victims do not want to cooperate voluntarily toward their repatriation, their stay in Denmark cannot be extended beyond a 30-day reflection period, and they will be sent home by the police at the end of the 30 days. The reflection period can be extended to up to 100 days, and possibly longer, if the victim cooperates with authorities. However, the 2010 NGO report calls into question the "voluntariness" in victims accepting an assisted return from Denmark. The government offered medical, dental, psychological, and legal services, and in certain cases a stipend, to victims of trafficking during the 30- or 100-day reflection period. The government reported the 30- or 100-day services were not contingent on victims' cooperation with authorities either in criminal investigations or in their removal proceedings. The government encouraged victims to assist in law enforcement investigations, including by offering support of trained counselors during police interviews; 27 victims cooperated during 2010, out of the 52 victims identified during the year. Danish police acknowledged factors preventing victims' cooperation with police, including mistrust of authorities, often the result of interaction with corrupt police forces in their country of origin, as well as fear of reprisal from traffickers and the knowledge that they were going back to their home country. Some country and regional experts continued to express concern about the lack of stronger incentives for victims to cooperate with authorities. According to regional experts, Denmark's rules for reflection and temporary residence permits largely focus on the return of victims. According to a 2010 report by UNODC, "In Denmark, the reflection period is technically a delay of the expulsion order." The government reported that only two victims participated in its "prepared return" initiative in which, through a contract with IOM, trafficking-specific support is provided to foreign victims of trafficking after returning to their countries of origin. Domestically, the government continued to fund two crisis centers for female victims of violence, which accommodated 33 women trafficking victims and one male victim during the reporting period. There were no specialized services or facilities for male victims.


Denmark sustained its efforts to prevent trafficking in 2010. The government continued a public awareness campaign begun in 2008 called "Who Pays the Price?" to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. The government has not conducted a nationwide government-sponsored anti-trafficking awareness campaign focused on all forms of trafficking. During the reporting period, however, the government initiated intensive studies of other sectors, in order to determine the prevalence of forced labor within various occupational fields, including agriculture, in Denmark. As part of this effort, the government held a parliamentary hearing on human trafficking in February 2011 which focused on trafficking for labor exploitation. The government continued its anti-trafficking partnerships through its funding of anti-trafficking programs in Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova. Danish authorities sustained partnerships with Scandinavian Airlines, the Association of Danish Travel Agents, and Save the Children to disseminate public service announcements against child sex tourism. Denmark continued to fund a hotline for trafficking victims and another for information about suspected child sex tourism overseas. The government reported one case in 2010 of a Danish citizen being prosecuted in Denmark for child sex tourism overseas; the case was pending at year's end. The Ministry of Defense provided human rights training to Danish soldiers prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions, which included instruction on its zero-tolerance policy regarding human trafficking.

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