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Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                              

Republic of Latvia

Latvia's economy experienced GDP growth of more than 10% per year during 2006-07; but entered a recession in 2008 as a result of an unsustainable current account deficit and large debt exposure amid the softening world economy.

The current account deficit and inflation remain major concerns.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Latvia

Latvia is a source and destination country for women trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Latvian women are trafficked to Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Switzerland, Greece, Ireland, and Japan for commercial sexual exploitation. Latvian teenage girls are trafficked within the country for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Latvia is a destination country for women trafficked from Belgium and Portugal for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and for women from Thailand who may have been trafficked for the purpose of forced labor. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009  Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Latvia.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

Shelter Association Safe House
6789 8343
Country code: 371-



Awareness of Human Trafficking Among Young People in Latvia

Alison Y. Boak, Kenneth W. Griffin, Debra Jones & Vita Karklina -- 29th Annual Conference, Global Health in Times of Crisis, 28-31 May 2002

[accessed 17 April 2012]

CONCLUSIONS - While youth in Latvia are largely aware of human trafficking, most don't believe it really happens in Latvia. Furthermore, while the majority of youth are interested in working abroad, many don't know how to take basic precautions to ensure their safety. These findings suggest that awareness of the reality of trafficking needs to be raised among youth in Latvia and that young people need instruction on how to take appropriate precautions if they seek to work abroad.

From Ballroom Dancer to Stripper: Surviving Chicago's sex slave trade Series: Sex and Sorrow: The Modern Slave Trade

Annie Sweeney, Crime Reporter, Chicago Sun Times, August 7, 2005

[accessed 17 February 2011]

To Z, Mishulovich's offer was exhilarating.  It was also a lie -- something she discovered shortly after landing at O'Hare Airport.  Put up in a cramped apartment with other Latvian women, she was watched constantly, beaten and threatened with being sold as a prostitute. Her passport was taken away.  And the dancing? Really it was stripping. For maybe $20 a night.  She was a virtual slave -- a sex slave, a victim of "human trafficking."


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[accessed xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]


Police uncover suspected human trafficking at bakery company in Latvia

Latvian Public Broadcasting (, 20 November 2020

[accessed 21 November 2020]

In response to the information received, criminal proceedings on trafficking, laundering, and causing bodily harm were initiated by the State Police in April this year.

During the investigation, it was found that several third-country nationals had long been exploited in this Latgale-based company.

They were allegedly not paid full salary and forced into debt. Workers were deprived of passports, subjected to physical violence and threatened with expulsion from the State if they failed to comply with all the demands of the criminal group.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Latvia

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 14 June 2021]


The Ministry of Welfare’s State Labor Inspectorate, the agency responsible for enforcing labor laws, conducted regular inspections of workplaces, and reported no incidents of forced labor through September.


There were no reports of labor abuses involving children.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


About 27 percent of Latvia’s population was at risk of social exclusion or poverty in 2019, according to Eurostat. The shadow economy is extensive, and informal workers are vulnerable to labor abuses and being drawn into criminal operations.

However, the Latvian economy has rebounded since the 2008–09 financial crisis, which inflicted severe economic hardship. Unemployment declined to 6.4 percent by the end of 2019, from 17.3 percent in 2009 and a record high of 21.3 percent in 2010. GDP per capita reached 69 percent of the EU average in 2018, from 52 percent in 2009. The monthly minimum wage rose by €50 ($57), to €430 ($490) in 2018.

The US State Department’s 2019 Trafficking in Persons report noted that Latvians are vulnerable to sex trafficking, brokered marriages, domestic servitude, and forced labor. Latvia maintains an assistance mechanism for trafficking survivors, but the State Department also noted that prosecutors have relatively little success in convicting traffickers.

Warnings of human trafficking taught to children

Annie Sweeney, Crime Reporter, Chicago Sun Times, Riga Latvia, August 8, 2005

[accessed 17 February 2011]

She was 17, the daughter of unemployed alcoholics in a struggling country where good work can be difficult to find.  So she took a job that, though it required leaving the Baltic state, would help pay the family's bills.  She was going to pick strawberries in Finland.  But as her new employers drove across the Latvian border and into Estonia, everything changed.  She was ordered to take off her clothes and pose for photos that would be posted on the Web.  One snapshot shows her wearing only a black bikini bottom, coyly hiding behind an overgrown plant. Another has her arched against a cinderblock wall. If you didn't know better, you'd think she wanted to be there.  She made it to Finland all right, but as a virtual slave who was forced to work as a prostitute and give almost all of her earnings to her captors.

Cypriot held in Latvia on flesh trade charges

Cyprus Mail, March 8, 2005

[accessed 30 November 2010]

According to the Latvian police the suspect was allegedly involved in trafficking in women under the pretext of recruiting them as waitresses and cleaners when in fact they would be pushed into prostitution.

Prevention of Youth Trafficking Initiative [DOC]

[accessed 7 September 2014]


PREVENTION, INVESTIGATION, & REPATRIATION OF VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN LATVIA: This project provides training to encourage cooperation among law enforcement officials and NGO leaders in combating trafficking of young people in Latvia. Regional Trafficking Response Teams have been established in three regions.

STRENGTHENING SOCIAL SERVICE PROVISION TO VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN LATVIA: This project strengthens social service provision to victims of human trafficking by assessing current services, creating partnerships between service providers and a local shelter; and by ensuring that the shelter staff is properly trained to respond to victims' needs.

Trafficking Alert - Trafficking and the NGO Community

Vital Voices, Trafficking Alert, June 2002

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 8 September 2011]

[scroll down]

NEW YORK-BASED ORGANIZATION EDUCATES LATVIAN ADOLESCENTS ABOUT SAFELY WORKING ABROAD AND WARNS ABOUT TRAFFICKING - . PPAT integrates an educational module on human trafficking into the existing curriculum of teen centers in Latvia. Before traveling abroad, adolescents can receive consultations in the center in order to ensure safe travel. The centers keep copies of the young peoples' passports, and provide them with information about embassies and NGOs that can help if they find themselves in dangerous situations overseas.

Women’s Anti-Discrimination Committee Experts Urge Latvia to Update Laws to Protect Women from Domestic Violence

UN Information Service UNIS, New York, 14 July 2004

[accessed 17 February 2011]

COUNTRY MAKES FIRST PRESENTATION TO COMMITTEE; TRAFFICKING IN WOMEN, EQUAL PARTICIPATION IN POLITICAL LIFE AMONG OTHER ISSUES RAISED - Turning to a related issue, experts expressed deep concern over the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of women trafficked or lured in to Latvia from other countries. Portugal’s expert lamented the apparent lack of programmes in place to rehabilitate those women once they were removed from harm. Granted, some cooperative initiatives were underway with neighbouring and transit countries, but the problem should be made a national priority. Other experts stressed the need to target and prosecute the client side of the equation -- usually middle-aged, married men.

Addressing that issue, Ms. Druviete said Latvia adhered to major international conventions and treaties aimed at preventing human trafficking. Also, the country had recently established the National Programme for Prevention of Human Trafficking (2004-2008), which focused on improving legislation, rehabilitating victims and raising awareness. To limit trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation, the Government had created a special police unit, strengthening its cooperation with neighbouring countries and cooperating with non-governmental organizations.

Finnish man faces charges of human trafficking in Latvia

Helsingin Sanomat International Edition, 19.2.2004

[accessed 17 February 2011]

[accessed 1 May 2020]

A Finnish man in his 40s is suspected of human trafficking and pimping in Latvia.  The man is believed to have organised a circle of dozens of women from Latvia, Estonia, and Russia to work as prostitutes in several large Finnish cities. He was taken into custody in Latvia at the beginning of February.

Human trafficking is not often encountered in the Nordic countries and for the time being the Finnish penal code has no reference to this issue. However, this fault will be corrected soon.  The charges against the man will be heard shortly and if found guilty he will be sentenced under Latvian law. Any sentence is expected to be rather heavy - particularly as it is suspected that some kind of pressure was used and an international criminal organization was involved, and because one of the women was a minor aged 17.

The Department of Labor’s 2003 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2004

[accessed 17 February 2011]

[accessed 1 May 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Statistics on the number of working children under the age of 15 in Latvia are unavailable. However, the commercial sexual exploitation of children is known to exist.  Prostitution by both boys and girls remains a problem.  It is estimated that up to 15 percent of prostitutes in Latvia are children between 8 and 18 years old.  Victims from Latvia are trafficked to countries in Western Europe, including Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Spain, Greece, Italy, and UK for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

Trafficking in Women and Prostitu-tion in the Baltic States: Social and Legal Aspects

Aet Annist, University of Tartu, International Organization for Migration, 2001 - ISBN-92-9068-117-9

[Long URL]

[accessed 18 February 2022]

The three Baltic States have got their share of the trafficking problem while going through an adjustment period after the ending of the Soviet era and re-establishing their independent statehood in the early 1990s. A common feature to almost every country that emerged from the Soviet legacy is that the lack of new work opportunities has hit more on women than on men in the transition to market economy. In the Baltic States, this has been the case especially with the women of the ethnic minorities who are over-represented among prostitutes and trafficked women. In general, the lack of opportunities for women has made many seize the opportunity to make earnings in sex industry through prostituting either in the home country or abroad, sometimes helped by traffickers. Some begin sex work voluntarily,  some are deceived by traffickers with false promises of other work and later forced to commercial sex.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 26 January 2001

[accessed 17 February 2011]

[33] The Committee expresses its concern at the fact that the current legislation regulating adoption is out of date and does not guarantee adequate protection of the child involved, as recognized in the Convention.


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 9 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – The country was primarily a source and transit point for trafficked victims. The main countries of destination were Germany, Spain, Great Britain, Italy, Switzerland, and the Nordic countries. There were reports, including from the European Police Service, that trafficking in women and girls for sexual exploitation abroad increased. Women, including well‑educated women, homeless teens, and minors graduating from orphanage boarding schools, were among those most at risk to be trafficked. Males were also trafficked. Trafficking within the country also occurred, and women from poor districts were often trafficked for sexual exploitation to Riga, Liepaja, and Ventspils. However, no criminal cases were initiated for trafficking in persons within the country.

Traffickers, primarily organized criminal groups, usually lured victims through false offers of employment for jobs such as dancers, bartenders, and babysitters in European countries. A large number of victims were drawn from the economically depressed areas of the country's eastern regions. While some victims were recruited through job advertisements or modeling and travel agencies, most victims were solicited through direct contact with traffickers. Traffickers often recruited their victims at cafes and clubs, and victims themselves recruited new victims for the traffickers

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