[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

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

Germany is a transit and destination country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Victims were trafficked to Germany from other parts of Europe, Africa (primarily Nigeria), Asia, and the Western Hemisphere. Approximately one-quarter of sex trafficking victims were German nationals trafficked within the country. In 2007, the latest year for available trafficking statistics, declines in the number of Czech, Romanian, and Polish victims were observed as well as increases in the number of Bulgarian, Hungarian, and Nigerian victims. Twelve percent of trafficking victims were younger than 18 years old. The majority of identified sex trafficking victims were exploited in bars and brothels. Reported incidents of forced labor occurred mainly in restaurants, catering, and the domestic work and agriculture sectors.

The Government of Germany fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Germany increased identification of forced labor victims and labor trafficking investigations during the reporting period. Sex trafficking investigations also increased, but available statistics indicate that just 30 percent of trafficking offenders sentenced to prison did not receive suspended sentences. Statistics indicate that, in 2007, three labor trafficking offenders received suspended prison sentences, and five others convicted for labor trafficking received fines or other administrative punishments. However, in cases where perpetrators were convicted on multiple charges, statistics only include convictions under the charge which has the highest possible maximum sentence. Therefore, available statistics do not capture the full extent of trafficking convictions and sentences in Germany.

Recommendations for Germany: Explore ways, within the parameters of the German judicial system, to increase the number of convicted traffickers who are required to serve time in prison; continue to improve efforts to identify and combat labor trafficking; ensure forced labor and child victims’ access to appropriate assistance and protection; standardize victim assistance measures and government-civil society cooperation across the 16 federal states; and strengthen awareness campaigns targeting beneficiaries of forced labor and clients of the sex trade, particularly in the most frequented red light districts.

The German government demonstrated adequate law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Germany prohibits all forms of trafficking; trafficking for sexual exploitation is criminalized in Section 232 of its Penal Code, and forced labor is criminalized under Section 233. Prescribed punishments range from six months’ to 10 years’ imprisonment and are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other grave crimes. It is common practice for judges to suspend prison sentences of two years or less for all crimes, including trafficking. Judges often give suspended sentences to first-time trafficking offenders. German authorities completed 454 sex trafficking investigations in 2007, a 29 percent increase from 2006, and initiated 92 labor trafficking investigations, an 18 percent increase from 2006.

In 2007, the most recent year for which data were available, authorities prosecuted 155 persons under Section 232 and 13 under Section 233 – for a total of 168, compared to a total of 193 prosecutions in 2006. The government reported 133 trafficking convictions, a slight decrease from 150 in 2006. In those cases where trafficking offences carried the most severe sentences, only 30 percent of those sentenced to prison did not receive a suspended sentence, compared with 38 percent in 2006. None of the eight trafficking offenders convicted under the labor trafficking statute in 2007 was required to serve jail time—five received fines or administrative punishments, and three received suspended prison sentences.

In 2008, two German men were convicted in a Lower Saxony court of kidnapping, hostage taking, rape, and trafficking and sentenced to 12.5 and 14 years in prison, respectively, for crimes committed against two German women and a Bulgarian student. Separately, a Polish couple was convicted of and sentenced to five and a half years and three years and three months’ imprisonment, respectively, for persuading, under false pretenses, young Polish women to travel to Germany where they were forced into prostitution. Police and NGOs jointly organized specialized seminars for investigating officers, victim protection officials, and prosecutors as well as workshops in source and transit countries during the reporting period.

The German government sustained its victim assistance efforts over the last year. State governments funded dozens of NGOs that provided shelter, assistance, and facilitated protection for victims of trafficking. The Federal Family Ministry fully funds the umbrella organization representing 36 NGOs and counseling centers that assist trafficking victims. The vast majority of these NGOs focused on adult, female victims. Formal victim referral mechanisms existed in 12 out of 16 German states. Authorities identified 689 sex trafficking victims in 2007, compared with 775 in 2006, and 101 victims of forced labor in 2007, an increase from 83 in 2006. Despite government encouragement of victims to cooperate in anti-trafficking investigations, many victims stated that their willingness to cooperate with authorities was negatively impacted due to threats or influence from traffickers. Victims are given a 30-day reflection period. The government provided legal alternatives to victims’ removal to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. These measures included temporary residence permits for the duration of trial proceedings as well as long-term residence permits to victims in certain circumstances, such as when the victim faced severe threats in the country of origin. Prosecutors have the right to order protective measures, such as police protection, for the duration of trials. State governments also provided additional assistance to victims; for example, the Baden-Wurttemberg government provided approximately $126,000 in 2008 to victims of forced prostitution. In early 2009, the federal police published a guidance brochure for police, judges, prosecutors, and other officials on providing professional assistance for sex trafficking victims.

The government continued efforts to prevent human trafficking during the year. The government sustained funding for NGO-produced public awareness campaigns in Germany and abroad including websites, postcards, telephone hotlines, pamphlets, and flyers. A Berlin NGO, funded largely by the Berlin Senate, operated awareness websites directed at clients of the sex trade. There were no known public awareness campaigns specifically targeting the potential clients in some of Germany’s best known red light districts, such as the one in Hamburg. In 2008, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs began development of a pilot project to train professional groups to help combat forced labor. The German government produced a public report on human trafficking in Germany including detailed statistics from 2007 on victims and investigations. A Kiel court in July 2008 sentenced a German citizen arrested in Cambodia on charges of sexual abuse of children to six and a half years’ imprisonment. Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Philippines are the primary destination for German child sex tourists. The government provided trafficking awareness training to commanders of German military units deployed to international peacekeeping missions on how to sensitize subordinates to human trafficking.