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March 23, 2023

US State Department criticises Bucharest handling of human trafficking

The US State Department report on human trafficking criticised the Romanian government for not being efficient enough in tackling this phenomenon last year, although it makes efforts in this direction. “The Govern­ment of Romania does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so,” the report says, adding that Bucharest has “demonstrated mixed efforts to protect and assist victims of trafficking during the reporting period.”

The document also notes that the government does not always apply the law as it should, while judges here do not always understand what they have to do.

The government is also criticised for failing to report what sentences were handed out against human traffickers and the number of cases of labour exploitation identified in 2010. Moreover, the cabinet has cut financing for several NGOs that helped protect victims of human trafficking, which led to several shelters for victims being closed down.

“For a second consecutive year, the government failed to provide funding to NGOs providing victim protection services. The lack of government funding jeopardized victim care. The hiatus in funding forced the closure of several trafficking shelters across the country, leaving many victims vulnerable and without services,” the document reads. Judges are also criticised for the fact they are not familiar with procedures in the case of human trafficking, which often leads to lengthy trials. Moreover, the report slams prosecutors as well, mentioning the case of a young woman who was sentenced for prostitution, despite the fact that she had been forced into it by human traffickers.

The document also mentions that in 2010, Romanian authorities investigated 42 fewer cases of human trafficking than in 2009. Over 400 people involved in human trafficking were indicted and 200 were sentenced during the reporting period. Among the positive aspects, the report underlines that the government has managed however to identify more victims of human trafficking in 2010: 1,154 compared to 780 in 2009.

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