U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Latvia

Latvia (Tier 2)

Latvia is a source and, to a lesser extent, a transit country for women trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation to Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Portugal, Cyprus, and Norway. Latvian women and teenage girls are trafficked internally for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Men and women from Latvia are trafficked to Ireland and the United Kingdom for the purpose of forced labor.

The Government of Latvia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. In 2006, the government implemented the Social Services and Social Assistance Law that requires the state to provide social and rehabilitation services to registered trafficking victims. During the reporting period, the government expanded the authority of an organization to identify and certify trafficking victims for government funded assistance. Nevertheless, the government should do more to proactively identify and assist those victims trafficked abroad by allocating at least nominal funding for repatriation. Authorities should make greater efforts to ensure that the majority of convicted traffickers serve some time in prison.


Section 154 of Latvia's criminal code prohibits trafficking for both sexual exploitation and forced labor. Penalties prescribed for trafficking range from 3 to 15 years' imprisonment and are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties for other grave crimes, such as rape. Latvia also uses non-trafficking specific laws to prosecute traffickers. In 2006, police conducted 22 investigations, compared to 24 in 2005. In 2006, 36 traffickers were prosecuted and convicted under another statute of the criminal code. Of the 36 convicted traffickers, prison sentences were imposed on only 10, with sentences ranging from 1 to 10 years' imprisonment. The remaining 26 convicted traffickers were given fines or placed on probation, punishments that are inadequate.


The government made modest efforts to improve its victim assistance and protection. Latvian Embassies in the United Kingdom and Spain identified and assisted three victims in 2006. At least 20 victims were identified in Latvia during the reporting period. All 20 received NGO- or IOM-provided assistance, and the six victims who cooperated with law enforcement qualified for government funded rehabilitation services. Although the government allocated $37,000 for victim assistance in 2006, it spent only $10,000 because it assisted only the six victims who cooperated with law enforcement. In early 2007, service providers were permitted for the first time to certify victims as eligible for government assistance; previously, only law enforcement officials were authorized to identify victims. In 2006, the government funded victim assistance and sensitivity training for 1,200 rehabilitation providers and social workers. The government encouraged victims to participate in law enforcement investigations; foreign victims may apply for temporary work and residency permits if they remain in Latvia to testify against their traffickers. In 2006, one trafficking victim was assisted by Latvia's witness protection program. The government did not penalize victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked.


The Welfare Ministry provided anti-trafficking awareness training for 1,200 social workers in 2006. Local police were also very active in prevention; during the reporting period, police inspectors visited 94 percent of Latvia's schools and spoke with students on the dangers of trafficking. The government did not fund a nation-wide awareness campaign during the reporting period.


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