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General information: situation on trafficking in human beings

Trafficking in human beings continues to be a dynamic phenomenon, determined by the traffickers’ constant search for means of rapid and illegal enrichment and fuelled by the money of those willing to pay for the exploitation of victims.

The total number of registered victims in the period 2010-2020, as well as the distribution of victims trafficked and exploited abroad, out of the total number of identified victims, are shown in the table below.
 

 

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

Total registered victims

1154

1048

1041

896

757

880

756

662

497

698

596

Victims trafficked and exploited abroad

849

752

544

552

418

492

321

261

253

314

275

In 2020, similar to previous years, Romania maintains the profile of a country of origin for victims of trafficking in human beings. At the same time, domestic trafficking continues to have a high proportion within the statistics, a significant part of the victims, especially minors, were exploited in Romania in 2020 - 321 people.

A data analysis conducted at national level profiles the main characteristics of victims of trafficking identified in 2020. Therefore, in statistical terms, 2020 saw a 15% decrease in the victims' population from 698 victims identified in 2019 to 596 identified in 2020. As in previous years, the Romanian citizens represent the majority of victims, only one person had a different citizenship being trafficked.

In the case of cross-border trafficking, the top five destination countries for the exploitation of victims in 2020 are United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden.

The efforts of the Romanian authorities aim at improving the international cooperation with all institutions responsible for the fight against human trafficking. This includes cooperation with institutions of destination countries to identify an effective response to prevent the phenomenon, to dismantle the trafficking networks and to protect the rights of the victims. Efforts are also focused toward improving the economic and social conditions of the vulnerable population, which is one of the main factors favouring the victimisation of Romanian citizens abroad.

The female population, both adults and minors, has an increased share in the total of identified victims, reaching 77.7% in 2020. The level of education of victims of trafficking in human beings remains low, with 68.5% of victims having at most middle school studies, 30% high school or vocational school studies and 1.5% a higher form of education.

Most of the identified victims were sexually exploited, regardless of the destination of exploitation, domestic or transnational. Sexual exploitation, including child pornography, counted for 72% of the victims of trafficking identified in 2020.

Institutional, legal and policy framework to address trafficking in human beings

Relevant legislation

Romania continues to align its efforts with the European and international standards on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings.

On 1 February 2014, a new Criminal Code came into force, bringing about changes to the anti-trafficking legislative framework.

The new Criminal Code responds to the practical needs that have long been calling for criminal law adjustments, while also meeting the relevant European standards. The legal and social message of the new code is primarily grounded on the purpose of reforming punitive policy, and the conceptual approach includes a review of punishments, a logical order by compressing legislation (in this respect a series of offences under the special laws have been included under modified or unmodified form in the new code), as well as facts and sanctions adapted to current realities.

According to an analysis of the Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings, it was found that most of the substantive and procedural criminal law provisions contained in the Directive were already covered by Romanian law, not needing major interventions when transposing the Directive into Romanian law.

Another important change, with consequences in the area of trafficking in persons, is also the one in the legislation regarding foreign citizens which, through article 5 of the Law for the amendment of the Law on asylum in Romania, includes the victims of trafficking in the vulnerable person category.

It is worth mentioning the completion of the Law on the protection of Romanian citizens working abroad in 2017. By these amendments, applicable from March 2018, additional thresholds are set for the registration of firms.

Main national legislation in the field of trafficking in human beings

  • Law no. 678/2001 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings, as subsequently amended and supplemented
  • The Criminal Code of Romania, amendments to the Criminal Code regarding the provisions on trafficking in human beings, made in 2020-2021:
    • increase of the minimum punishment in the case of trafficking in minors, from 3 to 5 years
    • supplementing the aggravating variants of the crime of trafficking in minors with the following: the deed was committed by a family member or a person living with the victim, respectively, the deed was committed by a person in whose care, protection, education, guarding or treatment the minor was, or the perpetrator abused his position of trust or authority over the minor or took advantage of the minor's vulnerable situation, caused by a mental or physical disability, a situation of dependence, a state of physical or mental incapacity or other cause
    • eliminating the statute of limitation for the crimes of human trafficking and trafficking in minors
    • aggravation of criminal liability for acts of pimping committed against a minor in the following cases: the act was committed by a family member or by a person living with the victim; the minor is in the care, protection, education, guarding or treatment of the perpetrator or the perpetrator has abused his acknowledged position of trust or authority over the minor; by a person who has previously committed an offence against the sexual freedom and integrity of a minor, an offence of child pornography or pimping of a minor
  • Law no. 135/2010 on the Code of Criminal Procedure
  • Government Decision no. 299/2003 for the approval of the Regulation for the application of the provisions of Law no. 678/2001 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings
  • Order of the Minister of Interior and Administrative Reform, Minister of Labour, Family and Equal Opportunities, Minister of Education, Research and Youth, Minister of Public Health, President of the National Authority for the Protection of Child's Rights, of the General Prosecutor of The Court of Cassation and Justice and the of Minister of Justice no. 335/2007 for the approval of the National Mechanism for Identification and Referral of Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings. In 2017, in the context of adapting the working tools used to face the changes generated by the continuous evolution of the phenomenon of human trafficking, within the project “Trafficking in persons - a victim-centred approach”, concrete procedures and tools to use in working with victims of trafficking were drafted, to support the practitioners, for a better implementation of the provisions of Order 335/2007.

National legislation on child trafficking, the rights of the children and the fight against all forms of exploitation of children

  • Law no. 272/2004 on the protection and promotion of children's rights, with its subsequent amendments
  • Government Decision no.1443/2004 on the methodology for the repatriation of unaccompanied Romanian children and on the provision of special protection measures in their favour
  • Government Decision no. 617/2004 on the establishment and organization of the National Steering Committee for the Prevention and Combating of the Exploitation of Child Labour, as subsequently amended and supplemented
  • Government Decision no. 76/2008 for the amendment and completion of the Government Decision no. 617/2004 on the establishment and organization of the National Steering Committee for the Prevention and Combating of the Exploitation of Child Labour
  • Government Decision no. 867/2009 on the prohibition of hazardous work for children
  • Government Decision no. 49/2011 for the approval of the Framework Methodology on the Prevention and Intervention through Multidisciplinary Teams and Networking in Child Violence and Domestic Violence situations, and for the approval of the Multidisciplinary and Inter-institutional Intervention Methodology on Exploited Children or in a risk situation of being trafficked for forced labour, children victims of trafficking in human beings, as well as Romanian migrant children, victims of other forms of violence on the territory of other states
  • Order no. 1335/2020 of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, for the approval of the Minimum Quality Standards for social services with accommodation, organized as care and assistance residential centres for children, victims of human trafficking 

 

Other national legislation related to the field of trafficking in human beings

  • Law no. 156/ 2000 on the protection of Romanian citizens working abroad, republished
  • Law no. 682/2002 on the protection of witnesses, as subsequently amended
  • Law no. 39/2003 on preventing and combating organized crime, as subsequently amended and supplemented
  • Law no. 211/2004 on certain measures to ensure the information, support and protection of victims of crime
  • Law no. 302/2004 on International Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters, republished
  • Law no. 508/2004 on the establishment, organization and functioning within the Public Ministry of the Directorate for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism Offences, as subsequently amended and supplemented
  • Law no. 95/2006 on healthcare reform, as subsequently amended and supplemented
  • Law no. 292/2011 on social assistance
  • Government Emergency Ordinance no. 194/2002 regarding the alien regime in Romania, republished, with the subsequent modifications and completions
  • Order of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Justice no. 173/2021, for the approval of the Methodology for evaluation and multidisciplinary and inter-institutional intervention in providing support and protection services for victims of crime

Support to victims

Victims of trafficking in human beings are entitled to receive information about their rights and how to access them:

  • the right to a reflection period of up to 90 days in order to be able to recover and get out of the reach of traffickers and to be able to make an informed decision regarding the cooperation with competent authorities
  • the right to physical, psychological and social recovery - assistance is provided for all victims of trafficking in human beings, without discrimination, irrespective of the type of exploitation and their decision to participate in judicial proceedings
  • the right to free legal aid
  • the right to financial compensation from the state
  • the right to protection - victims of trafficking in human beings can receive physical protection,  individuals who provide decisive information for the identification and conviction of perpetrators may be included in the Witness Protection Program

Victims of trafficking in human beings are entitled to assistance based on their own situation and identified needs, following an early assessment and a comprehensive analysis of each case. Victims can be assisted by social services providers in the public or private environment. These entities can also provide assistance services in partnerships. All victims of trafficking in human beings are entitled to assistance and protection without discrimination, irrespective of the type of exploitation and their decision to participate in judicial proceedings or not.

The social services provided to victims of trafficking in human beings are as follows:

  • information and social counselling
  • accommodation in a shelter administered by non-governmental organizations or by the state
  • support for other basic needs
  • healthcare
  • psychological counselling
  • judicial assistance
  • financial and material assistance
  • professional counselling
  • educational assistance
  • recreational activities

In 2020, a total of 289 victims were assisted. Assistance was granted by public institutions and/or NGOs and resulted in the services mentioned above.

Victims Witness Coordination Program

Victims can also receive support during judicial proceedings under the Victims Witness Coordination Program initiated by the National Agency against Trafficking in Persons (ANITP). The program creates a framework for trafficked persons who are witnesses or parties injured in a criminal proceeding. This is done through institutional coordination of those involved in combating trafficking in human beings, so that victims are encouraged and supported to participate in judicial proceedings.

The program ensures a permanent relationship with victims in order to provide them with information on the rights and services they are entitled to, on judicial procedures, as well as updated information on the evolution of the case, emotional support, or safe transportation to procedural activities. The program has contributed to an increased number of victims of trafficking, injured party or witnesses, participating in criminal proceedings and to an extent of their participation in the trial phase, but also to significantly reduce cases of abandonment of assistance programs before the end of the intervention and reintegration process.

In 2020, a total of 433 victims of trafficking in human beings participated in criminal trials. They were provided with information on their rights, social counselling, legal assistance, physical protection and transportation.

Prevention and information campaigns

The preventive initiatives developed in Romania are targeting both the supply and demand that favour trafficking in human beings. Through specific activities, the target groups are provided with information they need to adequately manage their vulnerabilities and at the same time, the potential beneficiaries of the services extracted from trafficked persons are informed about the legal consequences of using these services.

The main tool used to carry out prevention activities are partnerships. All preventive actions implemented by the National Agency against Trafficking in Persons have been carried out in co-operation with state institutions, non-governmental organisations and private sector ensuring a comprehensive and effective approach to the fight against trafficking in human beings.

The prevention campaigns, both national and local, focused on main forms of exploitation targeting specific audiences, also online through social networks. These campaigns, initiated and implemented together with institutional and organisational partners, have been tailored both to local and regional specificities of trafficking and to the various types of exploitation taking into account the particularities of the target groups of anti-trafficking message.

Also, one of Romania's main preventive approaches is to make the public aware of the Helpline number 0800 800 678.

The search for the best anti-trafficking communication channels for preventive actions has led to the use of different means of implementation, ranging from direct meetings with the target groups and the distribution of information and promotion materials to theatre performances, audio spots, video clips, flash mobs, online campaigns, media promotion, and other ways of communication.

Below are the most important prevention campaigns carried out at national level:

October 18-European anti-trafficking day

Every year, ANITP celebrates the European Anti-Trafficking Day by organising the "Trafficking in Persons Prevention Week". Throughout the week, anti-trafficking specialists together with their partners, carry out an intense activity all over the country dedicated to the fight against trafficking in persons. Awareness messages directed towards Romanian citizens include a wide variety of forms: theatre performances, exhibitions, flash mobs, awareness marches, contests, conferences, seminars, media coverage and others.

Beware of "perfect" opportunities with "perfect" jobs

Beware of "perfect" opportunities with "perfect" jobs is one of the campaigns dedicated to preventing trafficking of human beings for forced labour. The partners involved in this campaign were the Ecumenical Association of Romanian Churches (AIDRom), the Association for the Development of Alternative Practices for Reintegration and Education (ADPARE) and CARITAS Bucharest.

Your money enriches traffickers ... Your money kills souls

This national campaign highlighted the harmful effects of trafficking in human beings to prevent people from engaging in exploitive practices. Partners in this campaign were: the General Inspectorate of Romanian Police, General Inspectorate of Romanian Border Police, the Embassy of the Netherlands, AIDRom, CARITAS, Ratiu Romania Foundation, the National Trade Union Confederation Cartel ALFA and the Employers' Confederation of Romanian Industry.

The two faces man

This national campaign aimed at preventing the sexual exploitation of women. The campaign was intensively promoted in the media, thanks to the efforts of ANITP and its partners.

Trafficking in persons forgives no one

The campaign had an international component and was carried out together with partners from Bulgaria, Spain and Italy.

Use the internet carefully… trafficking in minors has a hidden faces

The prevention campaign took place in Romania, within the "Raising awareness and responsibility against child trafficking" project, implemented by ANITP in partnership with Save the Children Italy. The objective of this campaign was to raise awareness of the risks of misuse of technology in communication: internet, mobile phone, video and cameras and others.

Where begging starts, childhood ends

The project was implemented in rural communities in order to raise awareness about the effects of the phenomenon of begging among children. ANITP’s partners were: Telefonul Copilului Association and the Institute for Crime Research and Prevention within the General Inspectorate of the Romanian Police.

The right to work is yours. Do not sell it to traffickers

The campaign carried out by ANITP in partnership with AIDRom, focused on informing the Romanian citizens on the risks associated with human trafficking for labour exploitation.

The No project

This initiative was the first public-private-NGO anti-trafficking project developed in Romania and received the “honourable mention” at 2014 EU Award for Crime Prevention, for the best cooperation project.The project aimed at preventing human trafficking through art, sports, music, dance and film and focused on young people, in order to raise awareness of the phenomenon of human trafficking.

Project Freedom tour

For 37 days a caravan travelled all over the country organising: lectures, presentations, interactive discussions, round tables, presentations of video and audio materials and events in public places related to human trafficking.

Exploitation kills souls - national online campaign

The aim of the campaign was to help reduce the demand for the main types of exploitation (sexual, labour, begging) by informing the target groups and the general public about the condition of the victim, the methods of recruitment and the legal repercussions.

Do not beg, ask for help

The objectives of the campaign were to raise awareness of trafficking in human beings within vulnerable communities (including Roma communities), as well as to identify the main causes of vulnerability to trafficking and to find adequate solutions to prevent trafficking in human beings, especially exploitation through begging of the minors.

Don't ignore the invisible girl, her story can become your story too

The campaign was carried out with the support of the pop singer Brighitta GHEORGHE (known as BRIGHI) and aimed to prevent human trafficking for sexual exploitation. Her song "Invisible", which tells the story of a trafficked girl, gathered over 900.000 views in just a few weeks on YouTube.

Do you choose to cherish or to crush?

ANITP and the Ecumenical Association of Romanian Churches - AIDRom implemented this online campaign aiming at reducing the demand for sexual services.

Know your rights, respect your obligations

Within this project financed through the Internal Security Fund, A.N.I.T.P. informed and sensitized the population about the implications of human trafficking, in order to reduce the demand from the perspective of labour exploitation.

Working without legal forms - one closer step to become a victim of trafficking

National Agency against Trafficking in Persons and INCA Romania Association developed this campaign in order to inform the Romanian citizens working abroad, especially in Italy, about the risks of human trafficking and illegal work.

Prosecution of traffickers and perpetrators

At the national level, specialised anti-trafficking structures carried out procedural investigative activities in a number of 1 491 criminal cases (of total existing and those registered in 2020) for human trafficking and trafficking in minors, the establishment of an organised criminal group, but also pimping committed by an organised criminal group. 459 criminal caseswere registered in 2020 on sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, begging or committing crimes.

The total number of persons convicted in 2020 for trafficking crimes by the Romanian courts was 180 (116 persons receiving a final conviction for offenses of trafficking in human beings and minors; 64 persons receiving a final conviction for offenses related to trafficking in human beings, such as child pornography).

91 persons with a final conviction, have received custodial sentences, and out of them, 71 persons received sentences between 5-10 years and 3-5 years respectively.

National action plan

2018-2022 National Strategy against Trafficking in Persons, 2018-2020 National Action Plan and 2021-2022 National Action Plan

On 31 October 2018, the 2018-2022 National Strategy against Trafficking in Persons was approved. The National Strategy covers a period of 5 years (2018-2022) and represents Romania's next step in its efforts to update the management process of preventing and combating the phenomenon of human trafficking at national level, as well as the assistance provided to victims.

The national strategy, implemented through two National Action Plans (2018-2020 and 2021-2022) aims to reduce the impact and dimension of human trafficking by prioritizing anti-trafficking activities on the following areas:

  1.    Prevention of trafficking in persons
  2.    Protection, assistance and social reintegration of trafficking victims
  3.    Combating trafficking in persons
  4.    Monitoring and evaluation of trafficking in persons and policy implementation
  5.    Inter-institutional and international cooperation

Monitoring Committee

In order to follow the implementation of the activities foreseen in the National Action Plans (2018-2020 and 2021-2022) and for ensuring the achievement of the objectives set by the strategy, a Monitoring Committee for the implementation of the strategy was established.

The Monitoring Committee consists of representatives of the following institutions:

  • Ministry of Internal Affairs
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Ministry of Development, Public Works and Administration
  • Ministry Labour and Social Protection
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Ministry of Education
  • Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Tourism, Department of Romanians Abroad,
  • Ministry of Youth and Sports
  • Directorate of Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism

The Committee is coordinated by the secretary of state of Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Within the monitoring and evaluation process, the Monitoring Committee analyses how the tasks assumed by each institution are accomplished and establishes the measures that are required in order to achieve the objectives of the Strategy.

Cross-border cooperation to address trafficking in human beings

Romania as an EU country has assumed its obligations through active participation in the working groups of the European Union and in the European debates on community legislation, which regulates the field of the fight against trafficking in human beings.

Romania’s international and European activities in the field of trafficking in human beings are focusing on good practices exchange with foreign partners and on developing common actions to combat trafficking networks.

Along the years the anti-trafficking Romanian institutions have been participating in various working groups, seminars and meetings organised at the level of the European Commission and Council of the European Union. Among the most important, in 2020 we mention the active participation of the anti-trafficking experts in the meetings of the National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms, organised by the European Commission.

Attention has been given to strengthen traditional partnerships or developing new ones with a number of destination countries for Romanian victims of trafficking, such as France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Austria and Sweden, as well as to intensifying relations with our traditional partner-the United States of America.

The cooperation with international organisations such as UNODC, OSCE, the Council of Europe, ICMPD and the Council of the Baltic States has also been intensified, the Romanian anti-trafficking experts providing their expertise on various occasions.

The collaboration in the field of preventing trafficking in persons was reflected in the development of several transnational prevention campaigns. Below is a list of the most important ones:

  • “To work is a right! Exploiting work is a crime!”– carried out in the framework of a project co-financed by the European Commission and implemented simultaneously in 6 countries (Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, FYROM and Hungary).
  • With just a phone call you can save a life! Be his/her saviour!”– this campaign targeted Romanian citizens in the UK and was implemented by ANITP, the online platform AngliaMea.ro and the Romanian Embassy in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
  • “Are you a victim of human trafficking? You have rights!”– it was initiated by the European Crime Prevention Network (EUCPN) and implemented in several European States, including Romania,  aiming at informing victims and potential victims of trafficking about the rights they have on the territory of each Member State.
  • “Informing Romanian citizens in Denmark”– the campaign was initiated by ANITP, the Centre for Unregistered EU Migrants Kompasset Copenhagen and the Romanian Embassy in the Kingdom of Denmark with the purpose to disseminate anti-trafficking information to Romanian citizens in Denmark.
  • Blind bets” - initiated by EMPACT and implemented in several EUI countries, including Romania, the campaign was aimed at preventing human trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Relevant reports

Documents published by the National Agency against Trafficking in Persons (ANITP):

Relevant links to national authorities/institutions websites and other relevant contacts

National rapporteur or equivalent mechanism

National Agency against Trafficking in Persons (ANITP)

Address: str. Ion Campineanu 20, et. 5, sector 1, Bucharest
Telephone number: +40 21 311 89 82; +40 21 313 31 00
Fax: +40 21 319 01 83
E-mail: anitp@mai.gov.ro

Helpline

Helpline led by The National Agency against Trafficking in Persons

  • Free of charge : 0 800 800 678
  • Call from abroad : +40 21 313 31 00 or 004 021 313 31 00

Law enforcement

Police department for investigating organised crime and terrorism

Address: str. Calea Griviței, nr. 24, sector 1, Bucharest

E-mail: contact@diicot.ro

Romanian Police

Combating Organised Crime Department

Address: Str. Mihai Voda, nr. 6, sector 5, Bucharest

Telephone number: +40 21 208 25 25

Civil society organisations

ProTECT

ProTECT is the collaboration platform of 21 non-governmental organizations specialized in prevention, protection, victim assistance, lobbying and advocacy in the field of human trafficking.

Telephone number: +40 757 185 781

E-mail: secretariat@traficdepersoane.ro

INCA Romania Association

Telephone number: +40 314 362 963

E-mail: romania@inca.it

Terre des hommes Foundation

Telephone number: +40 371 300 390

E-mail: rou.office@tdh.ch

Pro Refugio Association - The Social Incubator

Phone: +40 732 623 218

E-mail: office@prorefugiu.org

The Social Incubator Association
Telephone number : +40 790 599 908

E-mail: office@asociatiasocialincubator.org