The government maintained victim protection efforts. The government identified 15 trafficking victims (32 in 2017). Of these, 11 were subjected to sex trafficking, two to forced labor, one to “slavery and servitude,” and one to domestic servitude through forced marriage (in 2017, 18 were subjected to sex trafficking, seven to forced labor, three to forced begging, and four to “slavery and servitude”). Twelve were children (19 in 2017); 14 were female and one male (29 were female and three were male in 2017); and 12 were from Kosovo, two from Albania, and one from the Czech Republic. First responders used standard indicators to screen vulnerable populations; however, observers reported a lack of guidance and proactive identification efforts for victims of forced begging, especially children. A multi-disciplinary national referral mechanism (NRM) provided standard operating procedures (SOPs) for identifying and referring victims to services. The NRM required an investigator from the THBD and a victim’s advocate from the Victim’s Assistance and Advocacy Office to convene and assess the victim as low-, medium-, or high-risk of danger and coordinate victim care and placement. SOPs required a social worker to attend for child victims. NGOs continued to report the NRM functioned well and highlighted good cooperation among actors.
The government licensed and partially funded two NGO-run shelters to provide services to victims, along with the state-run Interim Security Facility (ISF). These shelters provided legal assistance, medical, and psychological services, counseling, education, recreational services, and other rehabilitative support. Authorities afforded foreign victims the same rights and services as domestic victims. Victims also had access to nine Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (MLSW) support facilities, but the government did not have a care facility in the country’s four northern municipalities. ISF temporarily accommodated victims assessed as high-risk. Authorities required victims to have a police escort outside of the ISF while court proceedings were ongoing and required an approval from a prosecutor and the KP for victims to permanently leave the ISF while assessed as high-risk. The facility had the capacity to shelter 40 individuals with separate rooms for females, males, and families. Victims stayed at the ISF for an average of 90 days before transferring to a NGO-run shelter. ISF accommodated 17 victims (35 victims in 2017). The two NGO-run shelters provided support services to victims assessed as low- to medium-risk; one of these NGO-run shelters was solely for children. Observers reported reintegration programs had limited success due to a lack of resources and high overall unemployment.
The government allocated €150,680 ($172,800) for victim protection compared to €152,870 ($175,310) in 2017. The government continued to decrease funds for NGO-run shelters, which received €70,680 ($81,060), compared to €72,870 ($83,570) in 2017, €91,010 ($104,370) in 2016, and €101,930 ($116,890) in 2015. ISF received €80,000 ($91,740) in 2017 and 2018. NGO-run shelters continued to report government funding was inadequate and operations could not continue without foreign donors. In 2018, MLSW required funding applications for eight-month periods, an increase over the six month duration from the previous year. While the government allocated emergency funds to cover the activities during funding gaps, NGOs reported funds were insufficient and sometimes interrupted programming. The law entitled foreign victims to a 30- to 90-day reflection period in which victims can recover before deciding whether to cooperate with law enforcement. The law entitled foreign victims to a temporary residence permit for at least six months; no foreign victims requested a permit (one in 2017). The government repatriated three victims (11 in 2017). All 15 victims participated in investigations and court proceedings (32 in 2017). The government reported suspected traffickers were not present when victims provided statements and foreign victims could return to their countries of origin after testifying without waiting for the conclusion of the trial. The law allowed compensation from the state if victims could not get restitution from their traffickers. No victims received compensation in 2018, compared to 2017 when the first trafficking victim was compensated with approximately €5,000 ($5,730).