The Government of Ukraine does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period; therefore Ukraine remained on Tier 2. These efforts included significantly increasing cooperation with European counterparts on anti-trafficking investigations despite diminished resources and capacity due to Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine. For the second consecutive year, the government also allocated more money to its national budget for anti-trafficking measures. Finally, the government increased awareness efforts, especially among displaced Ukrainians, and screened for potential trafficking victims amongst vulnerable populations. During the reporting period, Ukraine’s government operated on a total-war footing to withstand Russia’s unprovoked full-scale invasion, performing a range of core functions to mitigate trafficking risks despite major war-related challenges, continued Russian strikes on Ukrainian civilian and critical infrastructure targets, and displacement of nearly one-third of Ukraine’s population, many of whom faced increased human trafficking risks. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Authorities prosecuted and convicted fewer traffickers, and most convicted traffickers avoided imprisonment. This lenient sentencing weakened deterrence, did not adequately reflect the nature of the crime, and undercut broader efforts to fight trafficking. Despite persistent concerns about corruption fostering impunity for trafficking crimes, for the sixth consecutive year the government did not secure any convictions of complicit officials. The government identified fewer victims and, while the government took some steps to protect unaccompanied children, deficiencies in the government’s oversight of children evacuated from Ukrainian care institutions, increased their trafficking risk. NGOs continued to identify systemic shortcomings in the implementation of the NRM and victim services.
The Government of Ukraine should :
- Identify and certify the official status of more victims to ensure they are afforded their rights under the trafficking law and modify the procedure for granting victim status to lessen the burden on victims to self-identify and divulge sensitive information.
- Vigorously investigate and prosecute alleged trafficking crimes and seek adequate penalties for convicted traffickers, which should involve significant prison terms.
- Increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict officials allegedly complicit in trafficking crimes under the trafficking statute.
- Increase efforts to identify victims and vigorously screen for trafficking victims among highly vulnerable populations, such as IDPs, refugees, unaccompanied minors, children evacuated from care institutions, undocumented persons, foreign migrant workers, women in commercial sex, and Ukrainian citizens whom Russia has forcibly deported to its territory.
- Provide additional, extensive training on the NRM and the difference between trafficking and other crimes to local officials and service providers throughout the decentralization process to minimize disruption in identification, referral, and assistance to trafficking victims.
- Increase protections for, and maintain data on, unaccompanied and separated children, including children evacuated from Ukrainian care institutions.
- Increase training for law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases, particularly on forced labor, using a victim-centered and trauma-informed approach, and how to gather evidence outside of victims’ testimony.
- Maintain victims’ access to legal assistance throughout the criminal process and improve victims’ ability to access court-ordered restitution in criminal cases and compensation through civil proceedings.
- Establish and fill a dedicated national coordinator position to lead national efforts to coordinate and implement anti-trafficking policies.
- Increase worker protections by eliminating recruitment fees charged to workers by labor recruiters and ensuring employers pay any recruitment fees.
- Increase government funding for anti-trafficking efforts, particularly funding for local communities.
- Increase law enforcement investigations and prosecutions of labor recruitment firms engaged in fraudulent practices.
- Finalize the anti-trafficking strategy and allocate resources to its implementation.
from 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report – U.S. Department of State
2023 Trafficking in Persons Report – United States Department of State