USDOS – US Department of State (Author)
The Government of Luxembourg fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Luxembourg remained on Tier 1. These efforts included increased funding for NGOs to ensure more robust access to services for victims and the establishment of the country’s first crime victim hotline. The government also increased cooperation between labor inspectors and police to identify labor trafficking through joint operations and increased efforts to collaborate with international law enforcement partners to investigate trafficking cases. Although the government meets the minimum standards, the number of convictions declined, and courts continued to issue lenient sentences to convicted traffickers, creating potential safety problems for trafficking victims, weakening deterrence, and undercutting nationwide efforts to fight trafficking.
Sentence traffickers to significant prison terms and ensure convicted traffickers serve those sentences in practice. • Develop safeguards for victims to protect them against traffickers freed on suspended sentences. • Revise the trafficking law to clarify that force, fraud, or coercion are core elements of the crime of trafficking of adults rather than aggravating factors. • Increase training for judges on the severity of the crime and the impact on victims and ensure convictions result in significant sentences. • Increase efforts to identify labor trafficking victims, by raising the number of labor inspectors in the field and granting them the power to proactively identify victims and increase efforts to prosecute and convict labor traffickers. • Promote a victim-centered approach in child victim identification procedures. • Increase staffing of the victim protection and fugitive research unit. • Include measurable outcomes in the national action plan to assess its progress. • Coordinate trafficking data collection and fund, maintain, and conduct trafficking research to create an evidence base for future policy decisions.
The government maintained law enforcement efforts. Luxembourg criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking through Articles 382-1 and 382-2 of the criminal code and prescribed penalties of three to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine for trafficking offenses involving adult victims and 10 to 15 years’ imprisonment and a fine for offenses involving child victims. These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Inconsistent with the definition of trafficking under international law, the law established the use of force, fraud, or coercion as aggravating factors rather than essential elements of the crime.
In 2020, the government initiated 11 investigations, compared with nine investigations in 2019. Of these cases, four were forced labor and one was sex trafficking; six cases were determined to not involve trafficking. The government initiated four prosecutions (two in 2019) and convicted one perpetrator for sex trafficking in 2020 (two convictions in 2019). Courts issued weak sentences for trafficking convictions, a perennial problem that undercut efforts to hold traffickers accountable and protect victims. The government partially suspended the convicted trafficker’s 18-month prison sentence in a case involving the exploitation of four victims. In 2019, the courts fully suspended the two convicted traffickers’ sentences. Law enforcement officials continued to report the law hindered investigators’ ability to search private homes suspected of being used for commercial sex and illicit activities; authorities noted commercial sex activities moved increasingly to private homes and online platforms during the pandemic. The police organized crime unit responsible for investigating trafficking comprised 13 investigators. The police maintained a two-person victim protection and fugitive research unit to ensure separation between victim assistance and investigations; however, an official noted that the unit did not have sufficient personnel to cover the potential absence of one of its officers. The government’s national institute of public administration canceled all anti-trafficking training for prosecutors, judges, law enforcement and immigration officials due to the pandemic. However, all 109 new police recruits received anti-trafficking training per mandated curriculum. Police and investigators continued to participate in an ongoing labor trafficking investigation with Belgium involving five suspects in five companies and an ongoing sex trafficking investigation with Germany involving six suspects. Labor inspectors and police coordinated with French labor inspectors to inspect a construction site, which led to the identification of four victims from Portugal, who were living in France but forced to work in Luxembourg. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in trafficking offenses.
The government increased efforts to protect victims. Authorities identified seven trafficking victims (six forced labor victims and one sex trafficking victim), compared with nine in 2019 and 14 in 2018. All were foreign citizens, including five men and two women; four of the victims were from Portugal. Police presumed an additional three foreign national labor trafficking victims; however, the potential victims declined to participate in an investigation and did not request or accept assistance services. The police had the sole authority to officially identify a victim and refer them to government assistance. Although NGOs continued to report the labor inspectorate was understaffed and the government’s ratio of field inspectors to workers was less than half of the ILO’s recommendation for highly industrialized countries, observers credited labor inspectors with increased recruitment and inspection efforts during the reporting period. However, labor inspectors did not have clear victim identification protocols and were not authorized to identify victims under Luxembourg law but could refer victims to the police; during the reporting period the labor inspectorate increased its cooperation with police including through joint investigations. A joint investigation in September and October 2020 led to the identification of four labor trafficking victims. Due to the pandemic, the government did not train labor inspectors during the reporting period.
Government-funded victim services included housing, psychological support, medical, legal, and financial assistance. The government utilized a national mechanism for victim referral and provided €461,500 ($566,260) in 2020 to the two NGOs responsible for coordinating trafficking victim care, an increase from the 2019 amount of €359,420 ($441,010). The two government-funded NGOs provided shelter to 16 trafficking victims during the reporting period. In January 2021, the two NGOs increased their operating hours to a maximum combined total of 100 hours per week from 60 hours per week; the two NGOs also combined resources during the reporting period, to include operating a joint office space and creating a single contact number. These measures facilitated better access to care for victims, although the limited operating hours continued to cause delays in victim assistance and hindered proactive operations. When the government identified victims outside operational hours, police could directly refer adult female and child victims to shelters; adult male victims could be housed temporarily in hotels until longer-term housing could be identified. Adult male victims could receive the same access to long-term accommodation and other victim services as adult female and child victims. Victims could leave the shelters unchaperoned and at will during opening hours of their respective shelter. The government also provided €8.4 million ($10.31 million) to assistance centers that provided shelter and assistance to victims of crime, including trafficking victims, compared with €7.5 million ($9.2 million) in 2019. The government further provided €96,960 ($118,970) to an NGO responsible for providing shelter to male trafficking victims. In an effort to mitigate the spread of the pandemic, the government funded the temporary housing of victims in hotel rooms before transferring them to shelters.
The government had legal alternatives to removal to countries in which victims would face retribution or hardship and provided relief from deportation for medical reasons. Victims were entitled to a 90-day reflection period to decide whether they wanted to testify, during which EU citizens could work. Upon expiration of the reflection period, the government could issue a foreign victim either temporary or permanent residency status if the victim chose to cooperate with law enforcement, during which time all victims could work. The government assessed on a case-by-case basis the residency status of victims who did not cooperate with law enforcement. Victim assistance was not contingent on cooperating with an investigation. Victims who declined to cooperate with police did not benefit from a temporary authorization to stay but otherwise received the full range of assistance. During the pandemic, the government extended residence permits for all migrant workers. Immigration officials used a questionnaire to proactively screen asylum-seekers for trafficking indicators; the government did not detect potential trafficking victims amongst asylum-seekers in 2020. The government continued working with the Netherlands and Belgium to strengthen their joint efforts in combating trafficking, particularly to protect non-EU victims exploited in a territory other than that of the country where they seek help and assistance. Moreover, the three governments published an updated brochure to raise awareness amongst the public and potential victims about anti-trafficking legislation and referral and assistance programs in each of the three countries. In December 2020, the government passed legislation to guarantee legal aid, regardless of nationality or residency status, to all persons recognized as victims who have insufficient resources and choose to pursue civil action. Victims could participate in a witness protection program to ensure their security before, during, and after a trial. Victims could claim compensation from the government and file civil suits against traffickers. The government did not grant compensation during the reporting period; in 2019, courts granted €2,000 ($2,450) to a victim in a civil suit.
The government modestly increased prevention efforts. The government’s inter-ministerial trafficking committee, chaired by the Ministry of Justice met three times in 2020 (five in 2019), to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts and national action plan implementation. Some observers noted the government fragmented responsibilities between numerous ministries with little centralized communication, however, the government reported no issues. For example, three separate ministries coordinated funding for male, female, and child shelters. GRETA reported the national action plan, endorsed in 2016, was vague, lacked a timeframe on meeting objectives, and did not allocate any resources. The Consultative Commission on Human Rights continued to serve as the independent rapporteur. In April 2020, the government launched the country’s first hotline for victims of crime, including trafficking victims; however, the hotline did not receive any calls leading to the detection of trafficking victims. In 2020, the government budgeted €15,000 ($18,400) to fund awareness activities compared with the same amounts in 2019 and 2018. The government continued its multi-faceted awareness campaign in coordination with the EU by printing and distributing brochures on victim rights and support services and renting and using advertisement space at tramway stops in one city. A government-funded NGO developed a toolkit for high school students to raise awareness about decent work conditions; the NGO tested the program in one school, but the pandemic postponed the project. The independent rapporteur reported the need to coordinate data collection across stakeholders. Government-funded NGOs carried out anti-trafficking projects in a range of countries in Asia, Africa, and South America. The government made efforts to reduce the demand for participation in international sex tourism by continuing to fund an NGO for local awareness campaigns focused on the prevention of child sex tourism. The government encouraged, but did not require, diplomats to attend anti-trafficking training. Labor laws allowed for recruitment fees but criminalized excessive amounts. The government continued its commitments under the 2020-2022 national action plan on implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which sought to prevent forced labor in private sector supply chains. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts but criminalized soliciting a sex trafficking victim.
As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit foreign victims in Luxembourg. Traffickers exploit victims from Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America in sex trafficking operations in cabarets, private apartments, and on the street. Increasingly, traffickers engage in forced labor crimes, sometimes involving Chinese, Pakistani, or eastern or southern European men, women, and children in various sectors, including restaurants and construction. Traffickers transport Romani children from neighboring countries for forced begging in Luxembourg. Groups vulnerable to traffickers’ illicit schemes include migrant workers in domestic work, catering, construction, and begging, as well as unaccompanied foreign children and people in Luxembourg’s legal and illegal commercial sex industry.