Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Macau

MACAU (Tier 2)

Macau is a destination for the trafficking of women and girls from the Chinese mainland, Mongolia, Russia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, and Central Asia, for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Foreign and mainland Chinese women and girls are deceived into migrating voluntarily to the Macau Special Administrative Region for employment opportunities; upon arrival in Macau, some of the victims are passed to local triad groups and forced into sexual servitude through debt bondage, coercion, or force. Victims are sometimes confined in massage parlors and illegal but widely tolerated brothels, where they are closely monitored, have their identity documents confiscated, are forced to work long hours, or are threatened with violence. The control of the victims by organized crime syndicates makes it particularly dangerous for them to seek help.

The Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, the government took steps toward revising its legal framework, prosecuted its first case of trafficking, and took initial steps to protect victims of trafficking. The government also established an interagency commission to coordinate efforts to fight human trafficking. Nevertheless, overall efforts to investigate and prosecute traffickers, particularly those involved in organized crime, remain inadequate. There also remains a serious lack of institutionalized protections for both foreign and domestic victims of trafficking in Macau.

Recommendations for the Macau SAR: Pass, enact, and implement the draft anti-trafficking law criminalizing all forms of trafficking; create and implement formal victim identification procedures to identify victims of trafficking and train law enforcement officials to use them; make greater efforts to provide shelter and victim services; and push for greater investigations and prosecutions of traffickers under the new comprehensive anti-trafficking law.


The Macau government demonstrated nascent and improved anti-human trafficking law enforcement efforts in 2007. Current Macau law does not prohibit all forms of trafficking, and only prohibits the trafficking of persons from Macau to outside destinations. Other current laws criminalize the sale or purchase of a person with the intent of placing that person in a state of slavery, and criminalize kidnapping and rape, but these statutes are rarely used to prosecute trafficking crimes. During the reporting period, the government drafted a new anti-trafficking law, but this legislation has not yet been approved. The Macau government made little progress in investigating and prosecuting trafficking offenses. During the reporting period, the press reported six trafficking cases involving 17 women in Macau. Five of the cases involved women allegedly exploited in the commercial sex trade, and one case involved the alleged forced labor of three 14-year-old girls employed in a massage parlor. Because of limitations in current Macau law, nearly all of the above cases are being pursued under statutes other than trafficking. Macau also had its first reported prosecution under the crime of international trafficking during the reporting period; the prosecution is ongoing. There were no other prosecutions during the reporting period, and there has never been a conviction for trafficking in Macau. During the reporting period, a Macau police officer was reportedly arrested after he blackmailed two women in prostitution for "protection" fees. The government has undertaken administrative discipline and criminal proceedings against him, and his case now rests in the prosecutor's office.


The government's protection efforts remained inadequate during the reporting period, and there remained a lack of institutionalized protections for trafficking victims. MSAR authorities have not designed any systematic, proactive ways to identify and refer for assistance victims among vulnerable populations. Although the Macau government identified 31 victims of trafficking in 2007, it is particularly concerning that none of the victims was given shelter or assistance, and all were likely deported for immigration violations. The government took initial steps to improve protection of victims of trafficking. The government's Social Welfare Bureau established a 24-hour hotline for reporting trafficking and contracted with a local NGO to provide for trafficking victim's care, including counseling services and shelter.

Foreign victims found it extremely difficult to escape their state of servitude given the lack of services in their native languages and the lack of their governments' diplomatic representation in Macau. MSAR authorities did not encourage victims to participate in the investigation or prosecution of traffickers. The control of intimidating Macau, Chinese, Russian, and Thai criminal syndicates over Macau's lucrative sex trade continued to dampen the willingness of the MSAR government to provide victims with witness protection, should they wish to participate in a prosecution of a trafficking offender. Victims were not offered legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. Victims detained for immigration violations were usually deported and barred from re-entry to Macau for up to two years.


The government demonstrated modest progress in its trafficking prevention efforts, with senior officials making public statements on the dangers of trafficking and the need for greater measures to confront it. The government also published anti-trafficking brochures that were displayed at border checkpoints and hospitals. The government did not take measures during the reporting period to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or child sex tourism, or conduct any awareness campaigns targeting clients of Macau's legalized prostitution industry.

Macau tier ranking by year


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