The Government of Moldova does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore Moldova was upgraded to Tier 2. The government demonstrated increasing efforts by investigating and prosecuting more suspected traffickers, including complicit officials, and increasing budgets for victim protection. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Identifying victims and conferring official victim status continued to be a challenge. Corruption, particularly in law enforcement and the judiciary, impeded prosecutions and influenced the outcomes of cases, including cases against complicit officials. Victims continued to suffer from intimidation from traffickers, and authorities provided uneven levels of protection during court proceedings.
As reported over the past five years, Moldova is primarily a source country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor, including forced begging. Moldovan victims are subjected to sex and labor trafficking within Moldova and in Russia, Ukraine, and other countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and East Asia. Most victims are from rural areas and have low levels of education. Women and children are subjected to sex trafficking in Moldova in brothels, saunas, and massage parlors. Increasingly, girls aged 13 to 15 are victims of sex trafficking. Child sex tourism remains a concern, including from the EU, Turkey, Australia, Israel, Thailand, and the United States. Children, living on the street or in orphanages, remain vulnerable to exploitation. The breakaway region of Transnistria remains a source for victims of both sex and labor trafficking. The undocumented, or stateless, population within Moldova remains vulnerable to exploitation, primarily in the agricultural sector. Official complicity in trafficking continues to be a significant problem in Moldova.
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RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MOLDOVA
Vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers and government officials complicit in human trafficking; implement measures to address corruption in the judicial sector and law enforcement community, including taking steps to shield trafficking investigators and prosecutors from external influence and internal corruption; exempt all trafficking victims from the requirement of in-person confrontations with their accused traffickers before an investigation can begin; improve protection of victims and witnesses during court proceedings, including prosecutions for witness tampering and intimidation; train police, judges, and prosecutors on a victim-centered approach to investigations and prosecutions; increase access to shelters and rehabilitation facilities for male victims of trafficking; improve cooperation with non-governmental care providers, including coordination on policy development and assisting victims cooperating with investigations; and continue to fund and maintain data for the hotline on child abuse and exploitation.