The government maintained mixed protection efforts. While it identified a decreased number of trafficking victims, it continued to provide essential protection services to an increased number of victims. The government continued to utilize formal written procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims, and it continued to receive referrals of potential victims from NGOs, international organizations, and police stations across the country. In 2018, the anti-trafficking unit identified 40 trafficking victims, including 24 male and 16 female victims, which was a significant decrease from the 75 victims the government identified in 2017. In 2018, the anti-trafficking unit visited a women’s correctional center to proactively screen for and identify potential trafficking victims among female inmates; however, the unit did not report if it positively identified any victims during the visit. The government continued to utilize a national victim referral mechanism to refer identified victims to care, including an NGO-run shelter, and cases to the anti-trafficking unit for investigation. The government continued to work with an international organization to develop more detailed referral procedures to better guide officials; the government approved these procedures in March 2019. Nevertheless, the government and civil society organizations reported that labor inspectors, regular police officers outside of the anti-trafficking unit, and detention center officials lacked the specialized training to proactively identify and refer victims to protection services.
MOSD continued to operate and fund a shelter solely dedicated to protecting trafficking victims, which provided psycho-social care, medical treatment, legal assistance, vocational training, and specialized services for children. The shelter’s staff included lawyers and specialists in psychology, social work, nursing, and education. In 2018, the shelter began offering computer classes, a book club, and religious services for both Muslim and Christian shelter residents; shelter staff also collaborated with a local NGO to host joint activities for children and victims to positively interact. The shelter had the capacity to serve a total of 40 victims, both Jordanian citizens and foreign nationals, with space for 27 women, three children, and 10 men. The shelter had a separate wing and entrance for male victims, and it was the only shelter in the country available for men. However, during the reporting period, an NGO reported male victims experienced difficulties receiving permission to stay at the shelter. In 2018, the shelter served a total of 153 trafficking victims; this represented an increase from 99 victims assisted at the shelter in 2017. The anti-trafficking unit referred most of the victims to the shelter, but NGOs also referred some victims during the reporting period. Shelter staff also reported cooperating with the embassies of Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka to provide assistance to their nationals. The majority of the victims that received assistance were adult female victims of forced labor, including domestic servitude, and a small percentage of victims of sex trafficking; the victims were nationals from Bangladesh, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Uganda. The government, through the trafficking shelter, was responsible for coordinating with NGOs and foreign embassies to assist in the repatriation of foreign trafficking victims; it helped facilitate the repatriation of 132 victims in 2018. The provision of shelter services was not conditional upon a victim’s cooperation with law enforcement or judicial authorities. Victims could freely and willingly leave the shelter and were allowed to stay at the shelter for as long as two months; the average stay at the shelter was approximately 40 days. However, an NGO reported shelter residents, whose cases were ongoing in the court system, were unable to obtain approval to extend their stay at the shelter beyond the two-month limit. During the reporting period, shelter staff continued to coordinate with MOL to waive fees for victims’ lapsed labor permits and assisted victims to find new employment if they chose to continue working. The government provided foreign victims with legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they faced retribution or hardship. The government encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers; foreign victims also had the option to provide a deposition prior to being repatriated. However, victims were not able to file civil suits against their traffickers for compensation.
Despite the government’s victim identification and protection efforts, authorities punished some foreign trafficking victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit, such as fines, arrest, detention, and deportation if found without valid residence documents. However, the Ministry of Interior and MOSD reached an agreement during the reporting period to waive fees for residency violations of trafficking victims. Some trafficking victims still faced inadequate victim compensation from the government. Jordan’s sponsorship system continued to prevent foreign workers from switching employers (without a letter of release from their sponsor) or receiving adequate access to legal recourse in response to abuse. Migrant workers, including potential trafficking victims, who left their place of employment prior to fulfilling their work contract, were considered illegal residents and subjected to fines and potential detention for their irregular presence in the country. Furthermore, bureaucratic and financial barriers and detention prevented some victims from repatriation, even if a worker left an employer because it was an exploitative situation. Some foreign workers remained in Jordanian detention, due to pending criminal charges against them or their inability to pay overstay penalties or plane fare home. NGOs reported that foreign labor trafficking victims were less likely to report abuses to the authorities due to fear of deportation or detention. Trafficking victims who opted to remain in Jordan for work were required to pay their overstay and lapsed labor permit fines before applying for a new work permit, which was a significant financial burden for victims.