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

Portugal (Tier 1)

Portugal is a country of destination for persons trafficked from Ukraine, Moldova, Russia, Romania, and Brazil for the purposes of forced labor, and to a lesser extent, sexual exploitation of women. Some trafficking victims are transited through Portugal en route to other European countries.

The Government of Portugal fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The Portuguese Immigration Service (SEF) began implementing strong anti-trafficking legislation passed in March 2003, and increased trafficking-related investigations against exploitive employers. But as of March 2004, investigations under that legislation had not reached prosecution stage, and law enforcement statistics mostly focused on related crimes. As stated in recent years, the government should distinguish more clearly between trafficking and immigration crimes, in order to ensure trafficking victims' rights are fully protected and trafficking crimes sufficiently enforced. The government should also improve its compilation of thorough statistics to better document its anti-trafficking efforts.


The government provided some information on trafficking-related investigations, convictions and sentences, but this information focused more generally on the illicit movement of persons than on the nature and severity of the exploitation involved. The anti-trafficking legislation passed in 2003 improved law enforcement efforts, but the full effect of the new legislation could not yet be measured at the judicial level. The Portuguese Penal Code prohibits the use of violence, threats, or fraud for purposes of exporting someone into sexual exploitation, with punishment ranging from two to eight years' imprisonment. The Portuguese Immigration Law criminalizes importing or facilitating internal movement of illegal foreign nationals for any purpose, with penalties ranging from four to eight years' imprisonment. The government reported the arrest of 54 individuals in connection with trafficking in persons in 2003, and of those, 37 remained under preventive arrest in March 2004. The government also reported 40 convictions for related crimes, such as kidnapping, recruiting illegal workers, pimping and extortion. Sentences ranged from 18 months to 15 years' imprisonment. In a notable case with possible elements of internal and external trafficking, the government charged and detained 10 public figures in connection with an organized pedophile ring operating out of an orphanage in Lisbon. Investigations were conducted against similar rings in other regions.


The government expanded its assistance to immigrants, including victims of trafficking, throughout Portugal. The government may refer victims to NGOs for short and long-term assistance and may provide short or long-term residency for victims willing to cooperate with law enforcement. A governmental body, ACIME, which reports to the Prime Minister, is responsible for coordinating assistance to immigrants, including trafficking victims. ACIME reported that 147 victims were housed in one center during a recent nine-month period. A large percentage of those assisted were provided employment and legalization of status, and others were repatriated.


During the reporting period, the government targeted information campaigns toward immigrant populations in Portugal and in source countries vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking in Portugal. It also provided information to Portuguese employment firms concerning the penalties contained in the 2003 Immigration Law. ACIME launched a weekly television program providing vulnerable immigrant populations with information on their rights and protections. The government also placed immigration liaison officers in notable source countries.


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