Human trafficking is still an issue with Romania, but the Government is making strong law enforcement efforts, and in 2014 there has been an increase in the number of traffickers sentenced to prison, reveals the annual report of the U.S. Department of State on trafficking in persons released on Monday.
Romania is a source, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to labor trafficking and women and children subjected to sex trafficking. Romanians represent a significant source of sex and labor trafficking victims in Western Europe (particularly the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, and France) and Central and Southern Europe (particularly the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Greece). Romanian men, women, and children are subjected to labor trafficking in agriculture, construction, domestic service, hotels, and manufacturing, as well as forced begging and theft in Romania and other European countries. Romanian women and children are victims of sex trafficking in Romania and other European countries. Romanian victims of forced begging and forced criminal activities are often Romani children, the report notes.
According to the cited document, the Government of Romania does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but is however making significant efforts to do so. The Government did not provide funding to NGOs offering victim assistance, and victims had difficulty obtaining medical services, psychological counseling, and restitution from traffickers.
The report’s recommendations to the Romanian authorities include the allocation of public funding for NGOs providing services to victims, providing funding to staff the new government shelters for trafficking victims; improving victim access to medical assistance and increasing the quality of psychological counseling; investigating, prosecuting and convicting traffickers, including complicit officials, and seeking and obtaining sentences that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with the severity of the crime.
Romanian authorities investigated 875 trafficking cases in 2014, marking an increase from 714 in 2013. The government prosecuted 534 defendants in 2014, similar to the 552 in 2013. Romanian courts convicted 269 traffickers in 2014, slightly more than 252 in 2013. Sixty-seven percent of convicted traffickers were sentenced to time in prison, ranging from one to 15 years’ imprisonment; this marked an increase from 2013, when 59 percent of convicted traffickers were sentenced to time in prison. Three government officials were convicted of labor trafficking in 2014.
The report also notes that the Government backs trafficking prevention efforts and the National Agency against Trafficking in Persons coordinated the implementation of the 2012 – 2016 counter-trafficking strategy developed in consultation with NGOs and drafted an updated 2015 – 2016 action plan. The agency regularly published reports and statistics on trafficking and assisted in the implementation of six NGO-led national awareness campaigns and 53 local campaigns that reportedly reached an audience of over two million people, the document concludes.