Last Updated: Thursday, 18 January 2018, 16:17 GMT

2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Norway

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 19 June 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Norway, 19 June 2012, available at: [accessed 19 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.

NORWAY (Tier 1)

Norway is a destination and, to a lesser extent, a transit and source country for women and girls subjected to sex trafficking and for men and women subjected to forced labor in the domestic service and construction sectors. Children are subjected to forced begging and forced criminal activity, such as shoplifting and drug sales. Most trafficking victims identified in Norway originate in Nigeria, while others came from Eastern Europe (Lithuania, Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria), Africa (Algeria, Ghana, Eritrea, Cameroon, Kenya, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo), Brazil, China, and the Philippines. These victims usually travel to Norway on Schengen visas issued by other European countries, and transit several countries, such as Italy, Spain, and Morocco. African trafficking offenders often coerce victims into prostitution through threats to family at home and threats of voodoo. Traffickers from Eastern Europe are typically members of small family mafias; offenders seduce young women in their home countries and convince them to come to Norway, where they are forced into prostitution. Men from the United Kingdom have been forced to work in construction in Norway. Some foreign au pairs, including those from the Philippines, were victims of trafficking in Norway.

The Government of Norway fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The Norwegian government has adopted a victim-centered approach to victim protection, offering generous and diverse victim services through specialized NGOs and local governments. Norwegian law obligates municipalities to offer trafficking victims shelter, regardless of residence status and the victim's willingness to testify in court. The government successfully concluded labor trafficking prosecutions involving atypical trafficking scenarios. Nevertheless, services to and identification of male victims of trafficking remain less developed than those for women. NGOs report that referrals to care by the police reduced this year.

Recommendations for Norway: Continue efforts to vigorously prosecute and convict both sex and labor trafficking offenders, and analyze why some criminal investigations into suspected human trafficking offenses are dropped or downgraded to pimping; investigate why few labor trafficking investigations result in prosecutions; consider options for the provision of longer-term victim assistance in non-emergency shelters; ensure that male and child trafficking victims also receive adequate protection and that all governmental anti-trafficking efforts are structured to address male as well as female victims of trafficking; determine why police referrals to NGOs dropped this year; offer assistance to trafficking victims who experience difficulties obtaining permanent residence permits due to identity papers; ensure that front-line responders understand and offer a "reflection period" to identified victims, during which victims can receive services and recover from their trauma; and fund a national anti-trafficking awareness campaign.


The Norwegian government sustained its law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Norway prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons through Criminal Code Section 224, which prescribes a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment – a penalty sufficiently stringent and commensurate with punishments prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. The Coordination Unit for Victims of Trafficking – the police unit specializing in human trafficking offenses – was made permanent in 2011. Major cities, including Oslo and Bergen, also had specialized police officers trained to investigate trafficking offenses. Norwegian authorities initiated 32 sex trafficking investigations and 12 labor trafficking investigations in 2011, compared with 26 sex trafficking and 11 labor trafficking investigations initiated in 2010. The government prosecuted a total of at least seven alleged trafficking offenders – six for sex trafficking and one for labor trafficking – under Section 224, compared with 11 sex trafficking offenders and no labor trafficking offenders in 2010. At least seven trafficking offenders were convicted in 2011, compared with eight offenders convicted in 2010. In 2011, all of the convicted trafficking offenders received jail sentences. The highest sentences awarded were 4.5 years in prison, in a case in which two Lithuanian children had been forced to shoplift. In 2010, the highest sentence imposed was ten years' imprisonment for a sex trafficking offense involving children. NGOs report that the duration of a criminal trafficking trial from initial review to conviction is approximately three years.

Norwegian law enforcement investigated a few high profile labor trafficking cases during the reporting period, including the alleged forced labor of hospital workers from the Philippines and the alleged forced labor of British men in construction in Norway. The police coordination unit completed a study during the reporting period surveying possible victims of forced labor to update labor identification criteria. Norwegian authorities collaborated with several European governments to investigate trafficking cases, including Estonia and Finland. The Norwegian government did not report the investigation, prosecution, or conviction of any government employees for complicity in trafficking in persons.


The Government of Norway sustained strong victim protection efforts during the reporting period. The Norwegian government provided protection to trafficking victims through government-funded NGOs, church associations, and municipalities. These NGOs offered both foreign and domestic victims a generous range of assistance, including shelter, legal aid, stipends for food, psychological care, medical assistance, fitness facilities, and Norwegian language classes. An NGO specializing in caring for trafficking victims who have received a reflection period offered vocational programs, education, and sponsored internships for victims who had completed a reflection period. Although some of the specialized NGOs primarily offered services to women, a few programs opened new facilities, including apartments, for men. By law, Norwegian municipalities were obligated to offer trafficking victims shelter, regardless of their immigration status. One of the main government-funded institutions for trafficking victim care received 128 contacts from trafficking victims in 2011, in contrast to 131 contacts in 2010. Nineteen of these initial contacts were men. Of these 128 initial contacts, 44 trafficking victims ultimately were housed by the victim care institution, including one man. The primary government-funded project received the equivalent of approximately $420,000 in funding for trafficking victim care; this sum does not include the costs for majority of the aid given to victims by municipalities, including free medical care, nor the financial allocations to other trafficking NGO projects. NGOs report that some trafficking victims reside in shelters for long periods of time; 22 victims lived more than a year in trafficking shelters. In 2011, the Norwegian government reported providing services for 272 trafficking victims, including 223 women and 51 men, compared with 319 trafficking victims in 2010. NGOs observed that there was a need for more longer-term shelter options for the rehabilitation of trafficking victims no longer in trauma situations.

The government empowered and trained a diverse set of actors to proactively identify and refer victims of trafficking, including municipal authorities, police, international organizations, and NGOs. In 2011, however, NGOs reported that the number of persons in prostitution or sex trafficking victims referred by the police for care dropped dramatically. Although the majority of trafficking victims identified by the government were sex trafficking victims, the government and NGOs suspected that labor trafficking victims were more likely to escape their detection and identification as trafficking victims.

Victims were permitted to stay in Norway without conditions during a six-month reflection period, a time for them to receive immediate care and assistance while they consider whether to assist law enforcement with the prosecution of their case. Under new regulations adopted in 2010, the Norwegian government also offered a permanent residency permit for victims facing retribution or hardship in their countries of origin, on the condition that they give statements to the police outside of court. Any victim of trafficking, regardless of potential retribution or hardship at home, who made a formal complaint to the police, could remain in Norway for the duration of trial; victims who testified in court were entitled to permanent residency. NGOs reported some difficulties in obtaining permanent residency for Nigerian trafficking victims who had testified in court, due to Norwegian government skepticism about the validity of the Nigerian identity documents. At least eight trafficking victims supported by the government-funded NGO testified in three separate trafficking trials in 2011. Only 17 out of the 44 victims cared for by the government-funded NGO project chose to report their situations to the police. According to the NGO, some of the victims chose to use the six-month reflection period, some feared reprisals of traffickers during trial, and others were advised by their attorneys not to report their trafficking case, either because of absence of information or because the victim was struggling with mental illness. NGOs did not report the detention or punishment of any identified trafficking victims.


The Norwegian government sustained its trafficking prevention efforts during the reporting period. It framed many of its anti-trafficking prevention efforts in terms of preventing trafficking from the source countries. The Norwegian government continued to be a leading international anti-trafficking donor, significantly supporting victim care throughout the world, including in Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi, and Mozambique. The government allocated to the equivalent of approximately $9 million to foreign anti-trafficking assistance. Norway named human trafficking as its priority during its 2010-2011 chairmanship of the Council of Baltic Sea States, leading other countries in high-level policy discussions on coordinated trafficking responses. The Norwegian government funded an anti-trafficking hotline that offered information to potential trafficking victims, government officials, and other NGOs. The government undertook steps to address the demand for commercial sex acts, including through investigating 211 cases involving the purchase of sexual services of an adult. Norwegian law enforcement authorities collaborated with United States and Italian investigators on potential child sex tourism cases in Europe. The Norwegian national criminal investigation service mapped the situation of Norwegian nationals travelling to child sex tourism destinations. The government did not, however, fund any broad-based national trafficking awareness campaigns targeting labor or sex trafficking. The head of the Norwegian National Advisory Group Against Organized, Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing took efforts to raise awareness about potential for forced labor on fishing vessels. The national coordinator enhanced transparency by publishing statistical reports on the government's anti-trafficking efforts. The government provided anti-trafficking training to Norwegian troops prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.

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