The government maintained victim protection efforts. Authorities identified 213 victims (92 sex trafficking, 65 labor trafficking, and 56 unidentified) in 2018, compared with 212 victims in 2017 (82 sex trafficking and 130 labor trafficking). Sixty of these new victims were children. The migration agency’s anti-trafficking coordinator identified 384 suspected trafficking victims among asylum-seekers in 2018 (44 were children), a 14 percent decrease from 2017. Reports indicated tightened migration policy curbed the inflow of asylum-seekers, allowing authorities more time to process and screen applicants for trafficking indicators. Nonetheless, the number of migrants and unaccompanied children seeking asylum remained high (approximately 944), and experts expressed concerns that many unaccompanied children were either at risk or victims of trafficking, particularly for sexual exploitation and forced criminality. Additionally, experts noted shortcomings in the proactive identification of unaccompanied children and expressed concern that the number of reported cases misrepresented the real scale of child trafficking in Sweden.
Municipalities, in collaboration with NGOs and other government agencies, provided victim services, including medical and psychological care, shelter, and social assistance. In 2018, the government allocated 800,000 krona ($89,510) to a civil society platform representing 20 NGOs that provided care to victims, whereas the government did not allocate funding in 2017 and allocated 500,000 krona ($55,940) in 2016. Although the country lacked shelters dedicated solely to trafficking victims, some municipalities ran shelters offering services to sex trafficking victims. The national coordinator led a network of approximately 40 NGO-run safe houses, and adult female trafficking victims could receive services at women’s shelters for victims of domestic and honor-related violence. Shelters assisted non-Swedish victims with immigration issues, medical care, and educational and employment needs, including Swedish language training. Authorities referred child victims to social services officials, who placed child victims in foster care or group housing. There was no protected housing available to male trafficking victims.
The Aliens Act entitled victims to a 30-day reflection period to contemplate cooperation with law enforcement, during which they were eligible for emergency financial aid; however, only an investigating police officer or prosecutor could file the application, limiting availability to victims already in contact with law enforcement. Victims in trafficking cases who cooperated with authorities received temporary residence permits, which allowed them to seek employment. Fifty-four trafficking victims received permits in 2018 (13 in 2017). Prosecutors had the power to file applications for permanent residence permits on behalf of victims based on protection needs, such as in cases in which victims would face retribution in their countries of origin; the government did not issue any permanent residence permits in 2017 or 2018.