[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

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

Spain is a transit and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Victims are primarily trafficked from Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela, and Nigeria, though victims are also trafficked from other areas of Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Africa. While most identified victims are women between the ages of 18 and 25 who are trafficked for sexual exploitation, minor females are also trafficked to Spain for the same purpose, and men and women are trafficked for forced labor, most often in the agriculture and construction sectors. There has been an increase in the number of minors trafficked into Spain for forced begging. In smaller numbers, Chinese victims are trafficked to Spain, primarily for forced labor. A coalition of 20 NGOs in Spain estimates that there are at least 50,000 people in Spain who are victims of human trafficking. Particularly vulnerable to trafficking are migrants from Romania and Bulgaria and possibly unaccompanied migrant minors, though there is limited data available on the latter group.

The Government of Spain fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government recognized weaknesses in the area of victim protection and took formal steps during the reporting period to strengthen policies to ensure that victims are granted full protection under the law.

Recommendations: Continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute human trafficking crimes and convict and punish trafficking offenders; track data on trafficking prosecutions, convictions and sentences served by trafficking offenders; continue to develop formal procedures to guide government officials in proactively identifying victims among vulnerable groups, such as irregular migrants and women in prostitution; implement the new national referral mechanism; ensure victim protection and assistance programs are adequately funded; ensure male and child victims’ access to appropriate assistance and protection; consider a campaign at the national level to raise awareness of labor and sex trafficking.

The government demonstrated solid efforts to prosecute and punish trafficking offenders during the reporting period. Spain prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons though Articles 313 and 318 of its criminal code and the Organic Law 11/2003, which prescribe penalties for sex trafficking of five to 15 years’ imprisonment and penalties for labor trafficking of four to eight years’ imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent, and the penalties prescribed for sex trafficking are commensurate with the prescribed penalties for other grave crimes. During the reporting period, Spanish police arrested 403 people for sex trafficking and 68 people for forced labor. In 2008, the government prosecuted 135 trafficking cases -- up from 102 in 2007 -- and convicted 107 trafficking offenders (14 of which were involved in forced labor) -- down from 142 in 2007, with an average sentence of slightly more than four years. Approximately 95 percent of those convicted received sentences of one year or more imprisonment, and five percent of those convicted received a fine and/or suspended sentence. There were no reports of trafficking related official complicity in Spain in 2008.

The government demonstrated efforts to address victim protection deficiencies that came to light in 2008. During the course of dismantling a large-scale sex trafficking network from 2007 to 2008, authorities arrested over 500 possible victims and deported many of them back to their country of origin; it is unclear if any of them received trafficking victim protection assistance subsequent to their arrests. In December 2008, in an effort to improve victim protection measures, Spain established a formal mechanism for referring victims to service providers. While Spain still is in the process of developing formal procedures for officials to use in identifying potential victims among vulnerable groups, such as people involved in the decriminalized commercial sex trade or migrant workers, the government funded NGOs to provide victim identification training for officials throughout Spain and reportedly identified 771 sex trafficking and 133 forced labor victims during the reporting period. Five of the leading anti-trafficking NGOs in Spain assisted 1,002 victims in 2008. While Spain did not release official figures on the amount it spent on victim protection, the government increased funding to a leading anti-trafficking NGO during the reporting period . Victims were entitled to medical and psychological assistance, including emergency care, through the national health care system as well as access to temporary shelter and legal protection. It is not clear whether the government offered specialized anti-trafficking services for labor trafficking or child victims. The government encouraged foreign victims to assist in trafficking investigations and prosecutions by providing trafficking victims with a 30-day reflection period. The government did not report on the number of victims that received the reflection period. Trafficking victims may qualify for the establishment of new identities in some instances. Spanish law permits trafficking victims to remain in Spain if they agree to testify. According to government policy, after legal proceedings conclude, victims had the option to remain in Spain permanently.

Spain sustained efforts to prevent trafficking through awareness raising about human trafficking over the past year. The government approved a national anti-trafficking action plan in December 2008 that pledged approximately $57 million over the next four years toward combating trafficking through law enforcement, victim assistance, and trafficking prevention programs. The national government did not implement a broad anti-trafficking public awareness campaign during the reporting period, but the cities of Madrid, Barcelona and Seville funded local public awareness campaigns. The Madrid city government produced awareness posters targeted at potential clients of the sex trade with the slogan “Because you pay, prostitution exists…Do not contribute to the perpetuation of 21st century slavery.” A government-funded NGO provided a 24-hour number for trafficking victims, but the number was not toll free throughout the country. Under the motto “There Are No Excuses,” the Spanish government in 2008 partnered with UNICEF on a website to warn Spanish travelers against committing child sex tourism offenses abroad. According to the Spanish military, Spanish troops receive trafficking awareness training before their deployment abroad for international peacekeeping missions.