The government maintained victim protection efforts. Government-funded civil society organizations identified seven potential trafficking victims, compared to four official victims in 2016. Of these, three were potential victims of sex trafficking, compared to four forced labor victims in 2016. Police were unable to confirm the form of trafficking of the other potential victims. The national police commissioner maintained detailed procedures for police to use to identify, contact, and deal with possible trafficking victims to provide them with assistance. The government continued to distribute information on the EU-issued “Guidelines for the Identification of Victims of Trafficking” and NGO-developed interview guidelines to government employees most likely to come into contact with trafficking victims. The Directorate of Immigration had written procedures to identify trafficking victims and provide them with information and resources, including during the interview process for asylum-seekers. Immigration and police officers maintained a pocket checklist to identify potential victims and inform them of available services. The government did not have a national referral mechanism, but police maintained standardized referral procedures that required police to contact welfare services in the municipality and the Ministry of Welfare (MOW) to coordinate victim care and placement. NGOs stated these procedures worked effectively in practice but required further clarification on the roles and responsibilities, including guidance on where to refer victims. Government-funded NGOs provided equal assistance and support to official and potential victims; the MOW provided services to two potential victims and four potential victims received assistance from the women’s shelter, compared to one victim in 2016. The government held 10 sessions on victim identification and assistance for approximately 400 officials.
The government maintained its two-year agreement signed in December 2016 to provide funding for an NGO-run domestic abuse shelter to provide emergency shelter to female trafficking victims and their children. The 2018 state budget allocated 76 million krona ($730,140) to the domestic abuse shelter, compared with 71 million krona ($682,100) for 2017. The MOW provided the shelter with an additional 300,000 krona ($2,880) for the provision of services for trafficking victims, compared to 350,000 krona ($3,360) in 2017. The shelter maintained a team of specialists to manage cases involving possible trafficking victims. Victims had access to free legal, medical, psychological, and financial assistance, whether or not they stayed at the shelter or cooperated with authorities. Municipal social service agencies provided services and financial assistance to trafficking victims, and the MOW reimbursed the municipalities for all associated expenses. In 2016, the government refunded 22.3 million krona ($214,240) to municipal governments for expenses related to “foreign citizens in distress,” which may have included trafficking victims. The government allocated 77 million krona ($739,740) in the 2018 state budget to a separate NGO offering psychological services to individuals in prostitution and trafficking victims, compared to 71 million krona ($682,100) in 2017. The government in collaboration with several NGOs opened a center offering free comprehensive services to abuse victims, including trafficking victims, as a two-year pilot project and allocated 50 million krona ($480,350). There were no specialized care available for male victims, though they could access general social services and receive referrals to NGOs providing food, shelter, legal advice, and health care. Municipal and state child protection services were responsible for assisting unaccompanied children, including child trafficking victims.
Witness protection for trafficking victims was not mandated by law, but the government could provide it. In previous years, an NGO reported victims of forced marriage, which may involve forced labor or sex trafficking crimes, generally did not contact police or press charges due to fear of traffickers and because cases can be difficult to prove. Victims could file civil suits against traffickers or seek restitution from the government, but no victims did so during the reporting period. Any foreign trafficking victim could obtain a nine-month residence permit. An additional one-year renewable residence permit was available to victims who cooperated with law enforcement or who faced retribution or hardship in their home countries; however, victims with either temporary residence permit could not apply for a permit to work legally in the country. Police reported that investigations often stall because foreign victims leave the country to seek employment. The government did not report issuing any temporary residence permits in 2017, compared to one in 2016.