[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

CZECH REPUBLIC (TIER 1)   [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]

The Czech Republic is a source, transit, and destination country for women from Slovakia, Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Belarus, Moldova, Bulgaria, Mongolia, and Brazil trafficked to the Netherlands, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Germany for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. The Czech Republic is a destination for men and women trafficked from Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Belarus, China, Vietnam, Mongolia, and Brazil for the purpose of labor exploitation. Roma women are trafficked within the country and abroad for forced prostitution.

The Government of the Czech Republic fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. In 2008, the government provided $450,000 in funding for its domestic anti-trafficking programs, including more than $280,000 for victim assistance. The government also maintained strong victim assistance and protection efforts, including the funding of safe repatriations for10 trafficking victims during the reporting period.

Recommendations for the Czech Republic: Demonstrate increased efforts to prosecute, convict, and punish labor trafficking offenders with imprisonment; increase the use of Section 232a of the criminal code to ensure convicted traffickers receive higher penalties for both sex and labor trafficking offenses; increase the number of victims referred for assistance by law enforcement personnel; and continue strong prevention and awareness efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts.

The government sustained its solid law enforcement efforts over the previous year. The Czech Republic prohibits trafficking for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor through Sections 232a, 216, and 204 of its criminal code, and punishments prescribed under these statutes range from 2 to 15 years’ imprisonment. These punishments are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. Prosecutors often use section 204 of the criminal code to prosecute traffickers. In 2008, police conducted 81 investigations -- including 10 labor trafficking investigations -- and prosecuted 110 persons for trafficking offenses, compared to 11 investigations and 121 individuals prosecuted in 2007. The government convicted 64 trafficking offenders during the reporting period, down from 78 convicted offenders in 2007. Only 28 percent -- 18 out of 64 traffickers convicted in 2008 -- served time in prison, compared to 23 out of 78 traffickers convicted in 2007 who subsequently served time in prison. In 2008, 16 traffickers were sentenced to one to five years’ imprisonment, and two traffickers were sentenced to 5 to 12 years’ imprisonment.

The government continued its impressive efforts to protect and assist victims over the reporting period. The government provided $283,000 to NGOs to provide victim care in 2008; as a result, NGOs were able to provide approximately 76 victims with government-funded comprehensive assistance and shelter, compared to 75 victims assisted in 2007. The government also funded the repatriation of nine foreign victims and one Czech national during the reporting period. Foreign victims were granted an automatic 60-day period of reflection, during which time they received assistance while they decided whether to participate in criminal investigations. Victims were encouraged to assist in investigations and prosecutions; victims who cooperated with investigators were granted temporary residence and work visas for the duration of the relevant legal proceedings; 19 victims were granted temporary residency permits in 2008. Upon conclusion of the court proceedings, qualifying victims had the opportunity to apply for permanent residency; one victim was granted permanent residency in 2008, compared to three victims granted permanent residency in 2007. The government has a formal victim and identification mechanism; authorities referred 13 victims to NGOs for assistance during the reporting period. Victims were not fined or otherwise penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked.

The government sustained its trafficking prevention efforts during the reporting period. In 2008, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs worked with the Romanian government to help raise awareness about the dangers of trafficking among Romanians working in the Czech Republic; similar bilateral efforts were conducted with the governments of Moldova, Mongolia, Slovakia, Sweden, and Poland. The government continued funding a campaign aimed at reducing the demand for commercial sex acts among foreign tourists visiting the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.