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    Germany has a long tradition of coordinating anti-trafficking efforts, dating from the late 1990s, when a Working Group was established to consider issues around trafficking in women. The main focus of Germany’s anti-trafficking policies has traditionally been trafficking in women and girls for sexual exploitation. However, in 2005, when the legal framework was brought into line with international standards for trafficking in human beings, all forms of trafficking were acknowledged. The institutional and policy framework is gradually changing to include trafficking for labour purposes.

    Germany is a source, transit and destination country for men and women trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labour. Victims are trafficked to Germany from other parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. Approximately one quarter of sex trafficking victims are German nationals trafficked within the country.

    Germany is a country of destination, and to some extent transit.The vast majority of victims (over 85%) are EU-citizens, mainly from Bulgaria and Romania. In 2009 ( the year with the latest data), within 534 concluded police investigations 710 victims  of trafficking for sexual exploitation were identified. Trafficking for sexual exploitation goes hand in hand with the crimes against sexual self-determination, smuggling of migrants , drug trafficking, deprivation of liberty, arms traffikcing and acts of forgery. The situation has not changed significantly in the past years. 24 investigations into trafficking for labour exploitation were reported. Due to the small number of cases nodetailed analysis is possible.

    An essential feature of counter-trafficking is raising awareness, including awareness of the changing methods of traffickers. Due to the hidden nature of trafficking and the stigma attached to victims by their communities, the real number of trafficking victims remains unknown. Knowledge of the extent of trafficking for labour exploitation is even more limited than that of trafficking for sexual exploitation.

    According to the situation report 2010, no significant changes can be registered for the area of trafficking in persons for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Yet there are also no expectations for short term sustainable changes in the future.  The report concludes: “However, the law enforcement authorities need to face changed and sometimes new challenges. The majority of foreign victims now come from EU member states and thus has legal residential possibilities in Germany. The difficulties confronting the law enforcement authorities in identifying the victims of human trafficking and launching corresponding investigations into the perpetrators are known and remain unchanged. The evidence on persons in the form of incriminating statements made by the victims continues to be vitally important and for this reason also the victim counseling and the co-operation between the law enforcement authorities and the non-governmental organizations.”

    For the area of trafficking for the purpose of exploitation of labor and services the report sums up as follows. “Even though the number of investigations rose in 2010, this was only due to one investigative complex conducted in Lower Saxony. If this investigative complex is not taken into account, the numbers decreased in comparison to the year before. There are increasing indications that the low case numbers can also be explained by the fact that it is difficult to put section 233 of the German Penal Code to practice and that therefore, different regulations, which can more easily be proved, are applied when possible. In these cases, the resulting proceedings do not contain a human trafficking charge.”

    In 2011 482 investigations for trafficking into sexual exploitation were completed (increase of 3 %). They involved 753 suspects (increase of 3 %). 28% of the suspects were German nationals, followed by Romanians (17%) and Bulgarians (14%). 76% of the suspects were male. 90% of the victims were female, in 2011 640 victims were identified (an increase of 5%). For the first time in years the biggest group was not German nationals, but Romanians. 61% of the victims are of Eastern European origin, especially Romania and Bulgaria. Only 51 victims, amongst them 23 Nigerians and 9 from other African countries, were illegally staying in Germany. We notice a significant increase in victims where the suspects tried to influence their statement (33% in comparison to 25%).

    Regarding trafficking for labor exploitation 13 investigations were completed in 2011 against 46 in 2010. 25 suspects were identified 8against 37 in 2010). 11 of the suspects were Germans, 3 of Polish. 72% of the suspects were male. 32 victims were indentified against 41 in 2010. 75% of the victims were female. 18 of the victims were exploited in agriculture, 4  households, and 3 in restaurants. 14 victims were Polish citizens, 10 Romanians.


    A summary of this text is also available in the official language of the country.




    All forms of trafficking in human beings are prohibited. Trafficking for sexual exploitation was already a criminal offence when the articles explicitly referring to trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation were redrafted during the 26th Criminal Code reform in 1992 and again in 1998. The current state of legislation dates back to the amendment to the Criminal Code in 2005, when forms of exploitation other than sexual exploitation were recognised. In addition, since 1997 Germany has had a separate Transplant Act, which was amended in 2001 and prohibits trade in tissues and organs.

    The sentences for human trafficking range from six months' to ten years' imprisonment. These penalties are commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes.

    A reflection period of at least 30 days was introduced in October 2000 for foreign victims without a residence permit. The victim may remain in the country in order to decide whether s/he wants to cooperate with law enforcement or to prepare for a safe return.

    During the reflection period, victims are provided with accommodation and with legal, medical and psycho-social assistance. If the victim agrees to testify in court, a residence permit on humanitarian grounds for the time of the court proceedings is granted. This regulation only applies to persons who have entered the country legally. Others may be issued a 'suspension of deportation' (Duldung) if they were accepted in the special programme for victim support according to special cooperation agreements between police and counselling services.

    Since 2007, trafficked persons cooperating in criminal proceedings can be issued with a residence permit for as long as the state prosecutor deems it appropriate. The residence permit can be withdrawn if the witness contacts the accused. Legal proceedings can take up to three years, and while access to education, vocational training, and ultimately to the labour market is allowed, this is in reality often impeded by the lack of employment opportunities.

    In addition, victims of trafficking may claim compensation from the perpetrator by initiating an Adhesion Procedure within the criminal proceeding. They can be entitled to state financed compensation under the Victims of Crime Compensation Act.

    In Germany, innocent victims of an intentional, unlawful violent offence causing a serious injury of lasting damage receive payments on application to compensate the health and economic results of the damage according to the Crime Victims Compensation Act (Opferentschädigungsgesetz). In some cases victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation are protected by this law. Currently, there is an ongoing discussion regarding a top-to-bottom legislative reform of crime victims´ compensation in Germany. In this context it is also planned to improve protection for victims of trafficking.

    National Strategy/National Action Plan

    The German approach to combating trafficking in human beings has been to streamline anti-trafficking policy measures into other policy tools.

    The 'Action Plan of the Federal Government to Combat Violence against Women' entered into force in 1999, and a report on its implementation was presented in 2004. A Second Action Plan of the Federal Government to Combat Violence against Women was developed and approved in September 2007. Both Action Plans contain anti- trafficking actions.

    Similarly, measures to combat child trafficking appear within the two national action plans, A Germany Fit for Children, 2005 –2010 and For the Protection of Children and Young People from SexualViolence and Exploitation.

    Coordination of anti-trafficking actions at a national level

    The responsibility for implementing anti-trafficking policies is shared among the relevant ministries, mainly the Federal Ministry of Interior, FM of Justice, FM for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, FM of Labour and Social Affairs, the equivalent Länder Ministries and the regional and federal police.

    In 1997, the Government established the Federal Working Group on Trafficking in Women (Bund-Länder-Arbeitsgruppe Frauenhandel), under the lead of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. The Working Group is the only nationally coordinated inter-ministerial task force gathering all major governmental and non-governmental actors on the various levels within the Federal system. The members include:

    • Federal Ministry for Women (central coordinator and manager)
    • Federal Foreign Office
    • Federal Ministry of the Interior
    • Federal Ministry of Justice
    • Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs
    • Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation
    • Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration
    • Federal Criminal Police Office
    • Representatives from each of the technical conferences of the Laender ministries of the Interior, Justice, Social Affairs and Equality
    • Counselling centre SOLWODI e.V.
    • German nationwide activist coordination group combating trafficking in women and violence against women in the process of migration (KOK e.V.)
    • Co-ordination group of the German Welfare Organisations (BAGFW).

    The Working Group aims to provide comprehensive policy recommendations on federal and Länder level and to formulate and coordinate specific actions in the area of trafficking in women.

    The Working Group is one of the two steering committees for the implementation of the Action Plan II to Combat Violence against Women.

    Some States have established similar coordinating mechanisms for their level, focusing mainly on trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

    Currently, the Federal Government is developing a broader approach to coordinate national policies regarding the granting of support and assistance for victims of human trafficking for labour purposes and forced labour. To this end, a research study has been commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, in order to take stock of the current situation regarding labour exploitation and trafficking for labour purposes, and to develop recommendations for adequate structures of assistance and support for victims.

    National Rapporteur or equivalent mechanisms

    Germany has not established a National Rapporteur or equivalent mechanism.

    However, the federal Criminal Police (BKA) publishes an annual Situation Report Trafficking in Human Beings since 1994. Cases of forced labour investigated by labour inspectors are also included in this situation report. The purpose of the situation report is to provide a compact summary of current information on developments within the field of human trafficking. The report enables police and political decision makers to assess the extent of the problem and plan accordingly. The situation report is also an important basis for the work of the Federal Working Group on Trafficking in Women.

    The most important challenges at national level

    As in the years before, identifications of victims remains one of the biggest challenges. Furthermore expertise in the field to combat trafficking for other forms of exploitations than forced prostitution, especially on the side of the support systems is starting to be developed with the different partners also in civil society.



    The German government has undertaken several preventive initiatives over the last few years. These include:

    • In 2008, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs began the development of a pilot project to train professional groups to help combat forced labour. Furthermore, the government provided trafficking awareness training to commanders of German military units deployed to international peacekeeping missions.
    • In 2008, the police and several non-governmental organisations jointly organised seminars for investigating officers, victim protection officials, and prosecutors as well as workshops in source and transit countries.
    • The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth has supported the German Women’s Council’s campaign Final Whistle – Stop Forced Prostitution. The campaign gained much attention nationally and internationally. Between March and July 2006 the campaign office registered over 80 regional 'Final Whistle Actions' taking place all over Germany using the German Women’s Council Material.
    • The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth is supporting workshops for the exchange of knowledge between police and specialised counselling services.
    • Since 2009, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs co-finances a pilot project Alliance against Human Trafficking for labour purposes, which focuses on the Region of Berlin and Brandenburg.

    Assistance and support provided to victims

    Assistance services to trafficked persons are provided by State-based services, including health care providers and counsellors. Besides, state governments fund several organisations that provide shelter, assistance, and facilitate protection for victims of trafficking. However, full medical and psychological assistance is only granted to persons who reside legally in Germany. Persons with an illegal status receive benefits according to the German Law on Benefits for Asylum Seekers. These cover basic needs but are below subsistence levels and are generally not sufficient for this target group.

    The German NGOs that specialise in counter-trafficking measures are members of the Federal Association against Trafficking in Women and Violence against Women in the Migration Process (KOK.) KOK therefore is an umbrella organisation with about 40 members that provide services, such as counselling centres and shelters, for victims of trafficking.

    According to the police, there were 676 victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation and 96 victims of labour exploitation in 2008. The identified victims are mainly from EU Member States and are legally resident in Germany.

    Residence permit

    Victims are given a minimum thirty day reflection period to allow them to recover and consider whether they would like to cooperate with the police in criminal proceedings. During the reflection period, victims are provided with accommodation, legal, medical and psycho-social assistance.

    If the person decides to cooperate and the criminal proceeding has been registered, atemporary residence permit can be granted by the prosecutors’ office. Temporary residence permits are in general issued for six months, with the option of successive renewals. Temporary residence permits can be extended, if the public prosecutor’s office cannot exclude the possibility of a threat to the trafficked person.

    The government provides legal alternatives to victims’ removal to countries where they may face hardship or retribution, such as long-term residence permits.

    Special protective measures for children

    The German government has attached special measures to combat child trafficking through the framework of the two national action plans A Germany Fit for Children, 2005 – 2010 and For the Protection of Children and Young People from Sexual Violence and Exploitation.

    Children have special rights as witnesses in criminal proceedings and the well-being of the child is the lead principle in cases involving children.

    Investigation and prosecution

    The investigation of human trafficking cases is the responsibility of the State (Länder) police units. Prosecutors who specialize in organized crime also handle human trafficking cases.

    Latest number of prosecutions and convictions

    In 2008, the latest year for available trafficking statistics, German authorities completed 482 sex trafficking investigations with 785 victims, mostly from EU Member States, including 316 German victims of trafficking. They also initiated 27 labour trafficking investigations.

    According to the US State Department Trafficking Report, in 2007 German authorities prosecuted 155 persons under Section 232 of the Penal Code, and 13 persons under Section 233 of the Penal Code.  The government reported 133 trafficking convictions, but in those cases where trafficking offences carried the most severe sentences, only 30 per cent of those sentenced to prison did not receive a suspended sentence. None of the eight trafficking offenders convicted under the labour trafficking statute in 2007 was required to serve jail time. Five of the offenders received fines or administrative punishments, and three received suspended prison sentences.

    Latest initiatives/activities related to anti-trafficking policy

    In December 1st 2011 the Bundestag passed the law on the establishment of a national helpline on violence against women, which will go operative in December 2012/Beginning 2013. This toll free telephone helpline aims at providing on a 24/7 basis first contact counseling regarding all aspects of violence against women, including trafficking in women, which is a form of violence against women. The helpline will forward persons seeking help and further advice to the local support system.

    In September 2011 the “Plan of Action 2011 of the Federal Government of Germany for the Protection of Children and Teenagers from Sexual Violence and Exploitation” was decreed.
    The Plan identifies the following areas of action as its focal points:

    • Prevention:
      • Keeping parents and experts informed, empowering children and teenagers, and providing therapy for potential offenders
    • Intervention:
      • Providing comprehensive aid to affected persons, and optimising prosecution
    • Communication Networks:
      • Creating safe havens for children and teenagers, and combating child pornography with all means available
    • Child Trafficking for the Purpose of Sexual Exploitation:
      • Expansion of  international cooperation for the protection of  victims and prosecution of  offenders
    • Tourism:
      • Combating the commercial sexual exploitation of minors abroad
    • Knowledge: 
      • Intensifying research and linking it to real-life practices
    • International Cooperation:
    The Federal Ministry of Justice has presented a bill for the implementation of the directive. According to that bill there are changes in the Penal Code necessary to include the exploitation of begging and petty crimes into the sections regulating explicitly trafficking offences. Furthermore changes in the sections regulating “Facilitation of trafficking” and “severe negligence in trafficking cases” will be adjusted to be in line with the directive. In addition to the bill deliberations are ongoing on enhancing the coordinating structures and the reporting on trafficking cases. Other latest initiatives/activities, challenges related to anti-trafficking policy you would like to share with other Rapporteurs of the Informal Network

    Starting on 6 March 2013,  the Violence against women support hotline on 08000 116 016 advises women affected by violence throughout Germany 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, free of charge. It provides information and can refer callers to appropriate local support agencies as needed. The support hotline counsellors (exclusively women) can provide advice on all forms of violence against women. Victims or people wishing to help victims can also consult the website at and use the online chat function or email to contact the support hotline. Calls to the support hotline are completely confidential and can be conducted anonymously. Through the use of interpreters counselling is available in many different languages. People who have difficulty hearing can request a free interpreter service via the website.

    Within the EU financed project “ADSTRINGO – Addressing trafficking in human beings for labour exploitation through improved partnerships, enhanced diagnostics and intensified organisational approaches” and as an activity of the CBSS - Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings a national workshop will take place in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in Berlin on 19 of March 2013. Representatives of other ministries, social partners, the Federal Employment Agency, churches and NGOs have been invited to this event.  

    National Referral Mechanism

    In 1998 a model for a referral mechanism focusing on victims of trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation was agreed and published for the first time by the Federal Working Group “Trafficking in Women“. This model was updated in 2007. The original model and the updated version had been elaborated by the Federal Criminal Police (BKA) and KOK - German nationwide activist coordination group combating trafficking in women and violence against women in the process of migration. Since police investigation and protection as well as support and counseling of victims of trafficking fall within the competence of the Länder within the federal system of Germany, on the federal level only a model exists, which is included as attachment. The Länder have adapted this model to their regional specificities and have signed formal agreements with the NGOs.


    Germany strives to base anti-trafficking efforts on the provisions enshrined in the Palermo Protocol in order to avoid duplication of measures and use a single agreed definition of the crime. Germany has signed numerous bilateral treaties in the area of organized crime with countries of origin, transit and destination of trafficking in persons, which as a rule include joint measures to combat trafficking in human beings.

    German police liaison officers are deployed in every important country of origin for human trafficking victims and perpetrators, to ensure fast and comprehensive information sharing

    In certain third countries, such as Russia and Ukraine, the Federal Criminal Police Office has carried out training and given presentations on combating human trafficking. On the operational level, regular meetings are held with representatives from Belarus.

    A member of the Federal Working Group against Trafficking in Women represents Germany in the Council of the Baltic Sea States Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings (CBSS-TF-THB) which focuses on trafficking in adults. Within the CBSS the Working Group on Children at Risk covers the area of child trafficking, where Germany is represented by an advisor from the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.

    Future plans in terms of implementations of the directive 2011/39/EU

    The Federal Government is examining whether the implementation of the Directive will require legal changes, especially regarding the purposes of trafficking in the applicable provisions of the Penal Code.

    The German Federal Ministry of Justice has prepared draft legislation that makes a few additions to existing statutory definitions of offences relating to trafficking in human beings. The relevant ministries, Länder and associations were involved in drafting the bill. Statements on the bill have now been submitted. Agreement still needs to be reached within the Federal Government on whether any changes will be made to the draft legislation. The aim is to implement the Directive before the end of the current parliamentary term.


    Until recently, Germany’s anti-trafficking policies concerning labour exploitation have exclusively followed a criminal law approach, whereby Article 233 of the German penal code set out punishments for trafficking. In order to effectively coordinate activities against trafficking for labour exploitation and to establish stable structures of support for the victims, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs started specific research in this field.


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