Prevention of human trafficking in Moldavia (TIP 2023)

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The government increased prevention efforts. The government approved the 2022-2024 NAP, allocating 16.2 million MDL ($849,060) toward implementation. While the government allocated financial and human resources to the NAP, in practice, it was dependent on assistance from international partners and civil society for many of its training and support activities. The Directorate for Coordination in the Field of Human Rights and Social Dialogue monitored implementation of the NAP and ensured the activity of the Permanent Secretariat of the National Committee for Combatting Trafficking in Persons, which oversaw the coordination, monitoring, and evaluation of all anti-trafficking policies. Each municipality and Gagauzia – a Turkic-speaking autonomous territorial unit – maintained a Territorial Commission for Combatting Trafficking to coordinate efforts at the local level. The commissions encompassed local elected officials, law enforcement, prosecutors, and social service providers. In 2022, the government conducted a national awareness campaign and information sessions on types of trafficking and assistance available for students and the general public. Several agencies and offices operated trafficking hotlines available in Romanian and Russian; 28 calls led to victim identification, referral to care, or a criminal investigation. The government made efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts by increasing the penalty for procuring commercial sex from between 20 to 40 hours of community service to between 40 to 60 hours of community service.

During the reporting period, Parliament passed and entered into force amended legislation authorizing SLI, which oversaw the occupational safety and health inspections, to conduct unannounced labor inspections – which were the country’s main mechanism to identify child labor, including forced child labor – at worksites known or suspected of human trafficking or unreported employment. Unlike previous legislation, the amendments permitted SLI to conduct unannounced inspections regardless of whether they received a written complaint or assessed an imminent threat. The amendments also permitted SLI to conduct unannounced inspections when they had suspicions or visual evidence of businesses’ involvement in child labor. In addition, MLSP restructured SLI to increase efficiency; decrease corruption, specifically inspectors’ opportunities to seek bribes; and boost SLI’s powers to prevent and sanction illegal labor practices. Changes included firing inspectors who had a history of abusing their authority, raising salaries for inspectors who remained by 30 percent, and requiring inspectors to notify supervisors before conducting an unannounced inspection. Furthermore, SLI introduced a new internal audit section to monitor inspectors’ activity and prevent and combat integrity risks. In cases of the worst forms of child labor, including trafficking, when inspectors identified a potential case, they immediately informed SLI. Case managers evaluated each case within 24 hours, and then, based on complexity, a multidisciplinary team, including CCTIP, assessed the case within 10 days. Case managers and the multidisciplinary team prepared a personalized assistance plan for victims. In 2022, authorities reported initiating 22 child labor investigations. In one case, CCTIP investigated suspected forced labor involving six boys; the investigation remained ongoing.

Under the law, SLI regulated employment agencies, recruiters, and unlicensed labor agents and required recruiters to provide transparent, legally binding contracts for prospective workers. Agencies in violation faced criminal charges for trafficking, among other penalties. However, SLI could only recommend penalties be assessed for labor law violations; the authority to impose and collect these penalties remained with the courts. Moldovan law prohibited agencies from charging prospective workers fees or taxes as part of the recruitment process. The law permitted collection of payment for additional services from Moldovan citizens seeking jobs abroad but forbid charges to job seekers for services performed by recruiters. Moldova’s public procurement law banned government agencies from contracting with any person or company convicted of trafficking crimes or child labor violations in the previous five years. The Ministry of Finance continued to provide guidance on public tenders that included a mechanism to exclude any economic agent involved in trafficking or child labor. The criminal laws against trafficking included penalties for individuals or companies profiting from trafficking. A report based on a national information campaign on labor trafficking risks noted law enforcement was slow to investigate private employment agencies. Private employers could only be inspected upon referrals from law enforcement bodies or complaints received from private citizens.

In response to the influx of refugees fleeing Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the government partnered with an NGO to gather information and analysis on the following: identifying trafficking risks among refugees, assessing vulnerability to trafficking, existing services for refugees, and training on those services. The government also established an intersectoral mechanism to identify, assist, and monitor child refugees. In 2022, authorities did not identify any victims or potential victims among refugees from Ukraine. Experts agreed the lack of confirmed trafficking cases reflected authorities’ failure to identify trafficking cases rather than the complete absence of trafficking among this population. The government and UNHCR led a task force on the protection of refugees from trafficking. The government also launched a guide on identifying victims in the context of mixed migration flows, particularly among foreigners and stateless persons, and granting them access to necessary assistance and protection. Authorities participated in an OSCE-facilitated workshop focused on the importance of interagency coordination in combating trafficking during the refugee crisis.

from 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report – U.S. Department of State

2023 Trafficking in Persons Report – United States Department of State

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