Slavery in Romania

The Government of Romania does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant and increasing efforts to do so. The government demonstrated increasing efforts in law enforcement, including sentencing two complicit officials. Working with NGOs it has identified a large number of victims, though police, judges and state attorneys need more training to give higher sentences and more victim support especially protecting their identity.

 

Romania is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and women and children subjected to sex trafficking. Romania is a significant source of sex and labour trafficking victims throughout Europe.

 

Romanian men, women, and children are subjected to labour 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 children are particularly vulnerable to forced begging and sex trafficking.

 

Romania is a destination country for a limited number of foreign trafficking victims, including sex trafficking victims from Italy and Armenia. Romanians living in privately run institutions for the mentally disabled are vulnerable to forced labour. Government officials have been convicted of human trafficking crimes, and there have been reports of local officials obstructing trafficking investigations.

 

In Sicily, for instance, police say they believe that up to 7,500 women, the majority of whom are Romanian, are living in slavery on farms across the region living in insanitary condition with more than half of the women forced into sexual relations with their employers. Almost all of them work in conditions of forced labour and severe exploitation.

Legislation

 

The constitution of Romania says no one should be subject to torture, inhumane or degrading treatment. The law states trafficking is a violation of human rights, dignity and integrity. The law gives sentences from 3 years to 25 years if there is death or suicide, for exploitation or setting up an organisation for that purpose. It gives protection to the young against sexual exploitation and forced labour specifically.

 

The government maintains minimal efforts in victim protection. Public officials and NGOs identified 757 victims in 2016, compared with 880 in 2015 and 757 in 2014. Of these victims, 47 percent were children, 78 percent were female, and 68 percent were subject to sex trafficking.

Child trafficking victims are placed in general child facilities or in facilities for children with disabilities run by the governmental child protection service, which generally did not offer specialized assistance and frequently re-traumatized children.

For Romanian victims abroad, Romanian embassies issued free travel documents and the government, NGOs, or an international organization paid for transport costs; 47 victims benefited from these services in 2016.

 

The government relied on NGOs to assist victims, but did not provide any financial support due to a legal preclusion of direct funding for NGOs. In 2016, an effort to change the law to permit funding to NGOs stalled; however, the government is still continuing to pursue the change

Some victims reportedly choose not to testify because the justice ministry publishes the names of all trial witnesses, including children, on its public website, putting victim-witnesses at risk of retaliation and societal or familial ostracization. Observers report that courtrooms are sometimes hostile environments in which traffickers and their supporters in the audience take photos of those pressing charges and verbalise death threats. The law permits victims to provide testimony from a separate room, although this is rarely done in practice due to judges’ general preference for live testimony, state-provided lawyers’ lack of experience with traumatized victims, and a general bias against victims exploited in prostitution.

 

The law entitled victims to restitution from their traffickers; however, victims generally could not afford the fees necessary to initiate civil trials or, in cases in which judges ordered restitution, pay court officers to collect the money owed from traffickers or the traffickers refused.

 

The government maintained prevention efforts. The National Agency against Trafficking in Persons (ANITP) continues to publish monitoring reports, research reports, and statistics. ANITP has implemented three large-scale national prevention campaigns, a separate awareness campaign targeting the Romanian community in the United Kingdom, and several other educational prevention campaigns and projects. ANITP is in the process of developing a 2018-2022 national action plan though a 2017 action plan was not developed.