Human trafficking became a topic of public concern in the 1990s due, in part, to the fall of the former Soviet Union, the resulting migration flows, and the increasing concern about the growth of transnational criminal organizations operating globally. Intelligence reports pointed to sex trafficking and forms of forced labor as some of these organizations’ largest sources of profit.
The first efforts to address trafficking in persons focused heavily on combating the sex trafficking of women and girls. Academic reports and news articles illustrated the effect traffickers were having on individuals and communities around the world.
In 1994, the Department of State began to monitor human trafficking as part of the Department’s Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, focusing exclusively on sex trafficking of women and girls. As the understanding of human trafficking expanded, the U.S. government, in collaboration with NGOs, identified the need for specific legislation to address how traffickers operate and to provide the legal tools necessary to combat trafficking in persons in all its forms.
According to Trafficking in Persons Report 2020, the Government of Romania does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. These efforts included identifying significantly more trafficking victims, participating in twice as many international investigations, and conducting more awareness campaigns. However, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period.
Authorities investigated, prosecuted, and convicted fewer traffickers. Alleged complicity in trafficking crimes persisted without punishment, particularly with officials exploiting minors while in the care of government-run homes or placement centers.
Authorities did not adequately screen for trafficking indicators or identify victims among vulnerable populations, such as asylumseekers, individuals in commercial sex, or children in governmentrun institutions. Services for child trafficking victims remained inadequate.
Moreover, a lack of sufficient government funding for assistance and protection services endured, leaving most victims without services, susceptible to re-traumatization, and at risk of re-trafficking. Therefore Romania remained on Tier 2 Watch List for the second consecutive year.
* Vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking cases under the trafficking statute and punish convicted traffickers, including complicit officials, with significant prison sentences. • Proactively identify potential victims, especially among vulnerable populations, such as migrants and asylum-seekers, individuals in commercial sex, and children in government-run institutions, through enhanced training for police officers and labor inspectors on recognizing indicators of exploitation. • Significantly increase resources for, and the quality of, specialized victim services for children, including by training local child protection officers who work with victims and ensuring they have the necessary resources, such as funding. • Amend legislation to allow for financial support to NGOs for victim services and develop and institute a formal mechanism for administering the funds. • Expand efforts to train officials involved in judicial proceedings, particularly judges, on working with trafficking cases and victims, sensitivity to trafficking issues, and understanding all forms of trafficking. • Increase the number of police officers investigating trafficking crimes and financial investigators specializing in trafficking cases. • Significantly increase anti-trafficking training for law enforcement officials on working with victims, evidence collection, and understanding psychological coercion. • Amend legislation to allow authorities to sanction recruiting agencies for crimes contributing to trafficking. • Increase the quality of psychological counseling and improve access to medical assistance for victims. • Amend regulations to exempt all trafficking victims Trafficking in Persons Report 2020who testify in trials from the online disclosure of their names to protect participating witnesses from retaliation and stigma and incentivize greater victim participation in prosecutions. • Provide knowledgeable legal counsel and courtroom protections for victims assisting prosecutions. • Revise the restitution mechanism to include minimizing court fees and increasing efforts to ensure victims receive reparation. • Allocate adequate financial resources for the implementation of the 2018-2022 national strategy and national action plan. (More details on :https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020-TIP-Report-Complete-062420-FINAL.pdf)
Ambassador Zuckerman urges Parliament to work to repair former gov’t damage to human trafficking
The United States is committed to using all available law enforcement resources to help Romanian authorities end the ‘shame’ of human trafficking, US Ambassador in Bucharest Adrian Zuckerman said on Friday.
He said a US State Department report found that last year in Romania, under the former government, the efforts to combat human trafficking were diminished and called on the Romanian Parliament’s leadership to work immediately with the incumbent government to adopt the necessary legislation, “to repair the damage caused by the former government, damage that encouraged offenders.”
“One of the priorities of the United States is to advocate for the rule of law. Yesterday afternoon, the trafficking in persons report requested by the US Congress was published. Unfortunately, Romania remains on tier two watch list for the second consecutive year, which means the Romanian government failed to properly intensify its efforts to combat human trafficking. The report found that last year, under the former government, efforts to combat human trafficking had been decreased, the number of prosecutions and convictions for human trafficking had been reduced, while care for the victims was deficient,” the US ambassador told a joint news conference with Romanian Interior Minister Marcel Vela, Minister of Justice Catalin Predoiu and Attorney General Gabriela Scutea.
He said he trusted the current government’s commitment to eradicate this scourge in Romania, noting that more needs to be done to prosecute human trafficking offences. “However, members of the government know that they face a legacy of politics, corruption and criminal networks that impede their every move. Since then, I have met regularly with the minister of justice, the minister of the interior and others. With the support of the United States, they have made sustained efforts to prosecute human trafficking offences, but more needs to be done,” he said.
Zuckerman said the US report was correct, but fortunately the number of prosecutions was steadily rising. “Unfortunately, it is obvious that the report is correct. Organised crime gangs have shamelessly trafficked people, knowing that they will escape unpunished, as happened many times in the past. Fortunately, the number of prosecutions has steadily increased, the protection of victims is also growing,” Zuckerman said.
He announced a zero-tolerance for human trafficking. “Today, I am proud to announce that, in collaboration with the Romanian Police, law enforcement and prosecutors, we are committed to a new zero-tolerance programme for human trafficking. The United States is committed to using all available law enforcement resources to help the Romanian authorities put an end to the shame of human trafficking. If you are a human trafficker, we will find you, arrest you and put you on trial. There will be no refuge for human traffickers, not in Romania, not in the United States, not in Europe, nowhere. You won’t be able to hide, it’s over,” said the US ambassador.
Zuckerman called on the leadership of the Romanian Parliament to adopt, together with the government, the legislation necessary to combat this scourge. “I am calling on the leadership of Parliament: start working immediately with the government to enact the necessary legislation to quickly prosecute these criminals, to confiscate the proceeds from human trafficking, to better protect victims and to repair the damage caused by the former government, damages which encouraged offenders. This is the time for Parliament to take action and protect the people it represents,” he said.
JusMin Predoiu: Human trafficking and organised crime have reached intolerable levels
The Minister of Justice, Catalin Predoiu, on Friday said that human trafficking and organised crime have reached an intolerable level in our country, and the former PSD (Social Democratic Party) government is responsible for this situation, for “destroying the legislation that strengthened justice” and sending a clear signal to the underworld that they could shake their heads.”
“We are at a time when things have to be named and acted upon. Trafficking in human beings and organised crime have reached an intolerable level in our country and we are here to put an end to this phenomenon. As the US Department of State report noted, last year, human trafficking intensified, and its forms diversified, which is due to a certain impunity that the organised crime sensed and speculated. In other words, this situation has a culprit – it is the former PSD government. If things have reached this intolerable point, it is because those who led at that time the Ministry of Interior, Carmen Dan, the Chamber of Deputies head, Liviu Dragnea, the Ministry of Justice – Florin Iordache, did not take measures in due time, pretended not to see this phenomenon, destroyed the legislation that strengthened justice, paralyzed the investigative capacity of the prosecutor’s offices, discouraged the action of the policemen. In other words, they sent a clear signal to the underworld that they can do whatever they please, and it doesn’t matter if they knew what they were doing or not,” said Predoiu.
În this context, Secretary of State with the Interior Ministry (MAI) police quaestor Bogdan Despescu announced on Friday that since taking over the current leadership of the MAI, a number of 11 organised groups specialised in cases of sexual assault and labour exploitation were closed down, with 79 persons being detained.
“Since the beginning of the mandate of the current leadership team of the Ministry, we have shown a constant concern for combating human trafficking. (…) The specialized structures of the Interior Ministry carried out, together with the DIICOT [Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism] prosecutors and in their own criminal investigation cases, over 50 operative actions, of which 24 were large-scale. A number of 11 organised groups were closed down, and 79 people were detained. These cases have induced complex documentation that has resulted in the dismantling of specialized networks in both sexual assault and labor exploitation. Such actions will continue with even greater intensity,” Despescu told a joint press statement with Interior Minister Marcel Vela, US Ambassador Adrian Zuckerman, Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu and Prosecutor General Gabriela Scutea.
He said that in order to increase the capacity to retaliate against human traffickers, the ministry has reached an agreement with partners in the United States for technical support in identifying these types of crimes.
“Moreover, since the beginning of the year and until now, the National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons has carried out 13 prevention campaigns. During these campaigns, more than 1,000 preventive IT activities were carried out, totaling approximately 65,000 beneficiaries. Also, the posts with anti-traffic messages and useful recommendations made on the Agency’s Facebook page had an impact of over 1.5 million people,” Despescu added.