Portugal is a destination, transit, and a source country for women, men, and children trafficked from Brazil, and to a lesser extent, from Ukraine, Moldova, Russia, Romania, and Africa for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. The majority of trafficking victims identified in Portugal are Brazilian women trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. Male victims from Eastern European countries are trafficked for forced labor into the farming and construction industries. According to a 2008 ILO Report, Portuguese men are also trafficked to Western Europe for forced labor. Trafficking victims also transit through Portugal to other European countries. There are an estimated 50-100 Roma children in Portugal, brought by family networks; some are trafficked for the purpose of forced begging.

The Government of Portugal does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government improved its collection of national data on trafficking, more vigorously investigated and prosecuted trafficking offenses, and implemented proactive anti-trafficking prevention campaigns during the reporting period. The government did not provide, however, comprehensive data on the number of trafficking offenders convicted and sentenced in 2008. Although the government identified a significant number of trafficking victims during the year, it reported that very few accepted law enforcement's offers for protection and assistance while detained; thus, many confirmed trafficking victims were not referred to NGOs for comprehensive care.

Recommendations for Portugal: Provide data on sentences given to convicted trafficking offenders; improve procedures for the proactive referral of potential trafficking victims to care and assistance; consider involving NGOs in the initial identification of potential trafficking victims; conduct awareness campaigns that educate clients about trafficking for sexual exploitation; and conduct specific anti-trafficking prevention training for military personnel being deployed abroad on international peacekeeping missions.


The Government of Portugal sustained its investigation and prosecution efforts in 2008 and improved its collection of national law enforcement data on trafficking. Portugal prohibits transnational and internal trafficking in persons for both labor and sexual exploitation through Article 160, which prescribes penalties of three to 12 years' imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those for other serious crimes. During 2008, the government investigated 55 suspected cases of trafficking, prosecuting 57 cases of sexual exploitation and forced labor, involving 190 charges. Some of these cases may include the prosecution of clients of prostitution. The government did not provide data on individuals convicted or sentenced. Law enforcement officials received periodic specialized anti-trafficking training during the reporting period. There were no reported cases of government officials complicit in trafficking.


The Government of Portugal continued to fund government and NGO shelters providing assistance to trafficking victims, and it provided protection to some identified victims in 2008. While authorities identified 138 trafficking victims during the reporting period, only 22 of these victims were permitted a 30- to 60-day reflection period during which to decide whether they wished to participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution against their traffickers. There continued to be a significant gap between the number of identified victims and those that accepted protection and assistance. Two victims were housed at the government shelter and eight were housed at an NGO shelter in 2008. The government employed a standardized method for collecting information on victims and informing those victims about available assistance while temporarily detaining them. However, gaps remain in the referral of victims for care, as questioning is done in a detention setting and NGOs are not involved in the initial identification process. In June 2008, the government signed a protocol guaranteeing the long-term funding for the safe house it opened for trafficking victims in January 2007. It continued to fund the majority of costs for an NGO-run shelter, provided an annual subsidy for another, and provided a fixed subsidy for each victim, including their children, for another. The government provided foreign victims of trafficking with short-term legal alternatives to their removal; victims are given a limited time to legalize their residency status or are repatriated. Reportedly, the government worked with IOM to ensure that victims were returned responsibly to source countries; however, it did not provide data on repatriations for 2008. Victims reportedly did not face penalties for unlawful acts committed as a direct part of their being trafficked. The government encouraged victims to participate in investigation and prosecutions of trafficking offenders; eight victims testified against their traffickers during the reporting period. The government reported that police made proactive and systematic efforts to identify sex trafficking victims within its legal prostitution sectors.


The Government of Portugal continued its proactive efforts to prevent trafficking during the reporting period. In October 2008, the government launched and publicized a national level campaign to raise public awareness about trafficking and publicized its immigrant hotline. The theme of the campaign was "Wake up to Reality: Don't Ignore It – Report It." Also in October 2008, it promoted an awareness campaign in one town in northern Portugal, to prevent the exploitation of Romanian immigrant farm workers. It also distributed 200,000 brochures to front-line responders with the goal of reaching more potential victims of trafficking. Portuguese officials also launched a campaign in October 2008 to alert students all over the country to the issue of trafficking. The government did not conduct awareness campaigns that educate clients of prostitution about trafficking for sexual exploitation. Although the Government of Portugal contributes troops to international peacekeeping efforts abroad, it did not provide specific anti-trafficking prevention training for these troops before deployment.


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.