U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Belgium

Belgium (Tier 1)

Belgium is a destination and transit country for trafficked persons, primarily young women from Sub-Saharan Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, and Asia, destined for Belgium's larger cities or other European countries, for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Chinese victims are often young men destined for manual labor in restaurants and sweatshops.

The Government of Belgium fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government showed particularly strong efforts with respect to international law enforcement cooperation and preventive campaigns in source countries.


The government's interdepartmental committee coordinates anti-trafficking efforts in Belgium's three distinct regions, as well as with its counterparts in France, the Netherlands, UK, Germany and Luxembourg. The government supports information campaigns in countries of origin, such as Russia, to warn young people of the dangers of trafficking. The government works closely with local and national NGOs and international organizations in the fight against trafficking. The government posts anti-trafficking liaison officers in Belgian embassies in several source countries, including Albania, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.


Belgium has a broad anti-trafficking law and punishment for trafficking is commensurate with other grave crimes, with particularly severe penalties for trafficking children. The government arrested 80 people in 2002 for trafficking crimes, and 71 investigations are pending. Trafficking-related sentences average from two to six years imprisonment with a range of fines; however, trafficking convictions are less frequent than prostitution-related convictions and observers note that cases involving illegal sweatshops which may relate to trafficking are rarely pursued. Belgium's Office of the Federal Prosecutor coordinates investigations and prosecutions of traffickers and a special unit of the Federal Police is responsible for anti-trafficking enforcement. The government appointed special anti-trafficking magistrates on the national and district levels, and the Center For Equal Opportunity and the Fight Against Racism provides specialized training to police officers and prosecutors involved in anti-trafficking activities.


Three regional centers, funded by the Belgian government and managed by NGOs, provide victim assistance. Trafficking victims who agree to testify against traffickers may obtain temporary residence and work permits. At the conclusion of a trial, victims who cooperate with the investigation may be granted permanent residence status and unrestricted work permits. The government also provides financial assistance to facilitate the repatriation of victims who wish to return home. Some shelter managers claim that witness protection remains inadequate due to lack of sufficient resources.


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