U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Spain

Spain (Tier 1)

Spain is a destination and transit country for trafficked persons for the purposes of sexual exploitation and, to a lesser degree, forced labor. Victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation come primarily from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Nigeria, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, and Romania. Some victims are trafficked for forced labor in agriculture, sweatshops, or restaurants. Spain is a transit country for trafficking victims destined for Portugal and Italy.

The Government of Spain fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government improved its monitoring and tracking of trafficking networks, and offered comprehensive assistance to victims. New anti-trafficking legislation allowed for increased penalties for trafficking, but no traffickers were yet sentenced under the new law. Notably, the City of Madrid cooperated with the federal government to announce a demand-reduction strategy which focused both on the responsibility of the clients and the rights of the victims. The courts should utilize the sentencing guidelines under the new law.


The government vigorously investigated and arrested individuals suspected of trafficking crimes, although new legislation carrying heavier penalties for trafficking had not yet resulted in longer sentences. The government passed comprehensive legislation in September 2003 prohibiting trafficking in persons for labor and sexual exploitation, with penalties ranging from five to 12 years' imprisonment. The new higher penalties are commensurate with those for other grave crimes, such as rape. The Immigration and Falsified Documents unit of the Spanish National Police investigated trafficking in persons, and reported 2,028 arrests for involvement in trafficking networks, and 1,003 arrests for trafficking related to sexual and labor exploitation. While conviction statistics under the new law were not yet available, there were 105 prosecutions and 12 trafficking-related convictions under the old law in 2003. The average sentence was 2.4 years, in accordance with those sentencing guidelines. Spanish police cooperation with source countries led to 303 trafficking-related arrests in source countries. The government extradited seven individuals for trafficking-related offenses in 2003.


Police identified 1,527 victims of trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation and 967 victims of labor trafficking. The police regularly referred victims to government-financed NGOs. Those lacking legal status, who were unwilling to cooperate, were generally returned to their home countries. Police reported that 230 victims agreed to testify and were granted short-term residency status. The government's violence education programs for female victims and an NGO partner on trafficking reported that 89% of the victims they assisted pressed criminal charges. The government also provided job placement services for victims rescued from trafficking situations. Anti-trafficking police and cadets received special training by an NGO partner.


The government negotiated with source countries to prevent illegal migration to Spain, including human trafficking. Responding to the reality that French-speaking countries in Africa represent source countries, Spain provided French-language training to high-level national police officials to increase cooperation with such countries. The government's NGO partners provide information to vulnerable groups. In January, the federal government and the City of Madrid announced a demand-reduction, anti-trafficking education campaign targeting the clients of prostitutes and prevention of trafficking.


This 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.