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Poland

  • 1. GENERAL INFORMATION

    Since the early 1990s, Poland has mainly been a country of origin for female victims trafficked for sexual exploitation. However, it has also become a transit and destination country for women from Bulgaria, Romania and the former Soviet Union countries, primarily Ukraine and Belarus. There has also been a noted increase in the phenomenon of human trafficking for forced labour. Additionally, there are more frequent incidents of trafficking in human beings for criminal activity, and an increase in trafficking in children for both begging and sexual exploitation.

    The Polish government has taken action in line with the change in trafficking patterns. In previous years, in accordance with the amendment of the Law on social assistance, all persons identified as victims of human trafficking were entitled to social assistance. However, the special programme for support and protection ordered by the Minister of the Interior and Administration was addressed only to foreigners. Since April 2009, support of Polish citizens can be guaranteed by the National Intervention and Consultation Centre for Victims of Trafficking (KCIK).

    The number of preparatory proceedings on trafficking rose from 74 in 2009 to 94 in 2010, but only 46,7% of them was officially classified by the prosecutor carrying out the case as the case on THB. Other were classified as leading another person to prostitution or committing the crime of impelling minor to prostitution or facilitates it to the minor in order to gain material benefits or gain material benefits from prostitution of the minor.
    Only 35% conducting proceeding resulted in bringing an indictment; 36% were discontinued.

    In 2010 80% of charged persons were citizens of Poland; charged foreigners were citizens of Bulgaria and Ukraine. In total 157 persons were charged.

    The number of persons who were found victims was lower – 323 persons in 2010 in relation to 611 person in 2009. 77,3% of them were Polish citizens, 22,7% were foreigners, mostly from Ukraine, Bulgaria and Belarus. There were single cases of African victims.

    Many foreigners from Asian countries were found victims of the violation of the rights of workers, but rarely they were found victims of trafficking for forced labour. Polish citizens were found victims of forced labour in EU countries, mainly in Italy, Denmark and Netherlands.

    National Consulting and Intervention Centre for Victims of Trafficking which is implemented as a public task ordered by the Ministry of the Interior collects data about victims:

    • Since IV-XII 2010 representatives fulfilled 157 questionnaires (57% all victims they supported), including 111 foreigners and 46 Polish citizens.
    • Only 44 persons had their status as victims of THB officially proved by LEAs.
    • Most of persons referred to the Centre personally (42%), only 12% were identified by Police and Border Guards, other 12% - were referred by other NGOs.
    • 95% of them were adults, 75% -were women.
    • When men were supported by the Centre, they were victims of trafficking for forced labour or violation of the rights of workers.
    • Trafficking of forced labour or violation of the rights of workers: most victims were from Ukraine (49%), Thailand (16%), Nepal (7%), other from: Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam; sectors: agriculture, fishing sector, transport, production of the cigarettes, physical work on market places and help in private home

    Taking into account the available data of the National Consulting and Intervention Centre for Polish and Foreign Victims of Trafficking (KCIK) for 2012 (in comparison to 2011):

    • In 2012 more foreigners were supported by the National Centre than in 2011 

    (52 foreigners in 2011, 109 foreigners in 2012); while the number of Polish citizens remains at the same level (81 victims in 2011, 89 victims in 2012);

    • In 2012 mostly foreigners were come from: Romania (38), Ukraine (32), Bulgaria (13), Vietnam (12) – the current trend.
    • The main form of exploitation remain sexual exploitation (78 victims), but THB for forced labour is also a big problem (56 victims). The rest of victims were exploited for begging (36 victims) and to forced fraud (4 victims). 

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  • 2. INSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL FRAMEWORK

    All forms of human trafficking are prohibited. Trafficking in human beings is specifically prosecuted under article 253 of the Polish Penal Code. The Law on amendment of the Penal Code that includes the definition of trafficking in persons was adopted in May 2010. Before there was a clear definition, prosecutors relied on trafficking definitions in the 2000 UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol when pursuing cases against traffickers.

    In the Criminal Code, Articles 203, 204 and 253 are used to prosecute sex trafficking cases. Article 253 and organised crime statutes are used to prosecute labour trafficking cases, although there are no provisions that specifically define and address trafficking for labour exploitation.

    Penalties prescribed under Article 253 range from three to 15 years' imprisonment, and penalties prescribed under Articles 203 and 204 range from one to ten years' imprisonment. These punishments are commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape.

    In April 2005, the Aliens Act and the Act on the Protection of Aliens on the Territory of the Republic of Poland were amended. The granting of residence permits to foreigners who are considering whether to cooperate with law enforcement bodies is covered in the act. Since January 2009, victims of trafficking may be granted a three month reflection period or a six month residence permit, which is renewable if the victim cooperates in criminal proceedings. Poland has thus transposed the Council Directive 2004/81/EC (on the residence permit issued to third country nationals who are victims of trafficking of human beings or who have been the subject of an action to facilitate illegal immigration).

    National Strategy/National Action Plan

    National Programs for Combating and Preventing Trafficking in Human Beings have been approved every two years since 2003. The latest policy instrument is the National Action Plan against Trafficking in Human Beings 2009-2010.

    A report by an inter-ministerial committee on the work carried out to implement the Action Plan is submitted to the President of the Council of Ministers every year.

    Coordination of anti-trafficking actions at a national level

    An inter-ministerial Committee for Combating and Preventing Trafficking in Human Beings was appointed by the Council of Ministers in March 2004. The Committee is chaired by the Under-Secretary of State of the Ministry of the Interior and Administration and has equivalent functions to a National Coordinator.

    The Committee is made up of representatives from all competent ministries, governmental administration units and non-governmental organisations, and acts as an Advisory Board to the Prime Minister.

    The tasks of the Committee include:

    • Evaluation of the implementation of the National Action Plan against Trafficking in Human Beings;
    • Proposing and giving opinions about undertaken actions;
    • Cooperating with agencies of government administration and local government, as well as with non-governmental organisations.

    As the Committee only meets twice a year, the on-going work of monitoring and information exchange has led to the establishment of a special Working Group, made up of experts representing the institutions in the Committee’s work. Moreover, to better address chosen issues, two more expert groups were established, dealing with trafficking in children and preventive actions.

    National Rapporteur or equivalent mechanisms

    A National Rapporteur has not been established in Poland.

    However, the inter-ministerial Committee for Combating and Preventing Trafficking in Human Beings acts as an equivalent mechanism. The Committee was appointed in 2004 and is chaired by the Under-Secretary of State of the Ministry of the Interior and Administration.

    The Committee is made up of representatives from all competent ministries, governmental administration units and non-governmental organisations, and acts as an Advisory Board to the Prime Minister.

    The most important challenges at national level

    • The need for enchasing regional cooperation between institutions responsible for combating trafficking cases and supporting victims (Police, Border Guard, labour inspection as well as social assistance and the National Consulting and Intervention Centre for Victims of Trafficking) by creation regional task-forces against THB. Task-forces will be used as a platform of exchanging information to better support victims as well as a mechanism of coordination preventive and educational actions in the region;
    • Trainings for different groups of professionals (Police and Border Guard officers, prosecutors, judges, labour inspectors, social workers, trade unions, NGOs, consular personnel, personnel of caring educational institutions for children etc.); 
    • Creation adequate tools for law enforcement agencies on identification of victims;
    • Information campaign for Polish citizens who are going abroad to undertake work in the EU countries (Netherlands, Denmark, United Kingdom) – conference about safe organization of the work, leaflets, information in newspapers, media, special website, embassies websites, helpline etc.; 
    • Information campaign addressed to youths to draw their attention to the threat of human trafficking (e.g. competition for the best thesis, competition for the best novel for youths in gymnasium etc.).
  • 3. IMPLEMENTATION OF ANTI-TRAFFICKING POLICY

    Prevention

    Since 2007, an information campaign on trafficking for forced labour, directed at Polish citizens migrating to other EU Member States to find employment, has been conducted. The Ministry of Interior and Administration (MOI), in cooperation with the La Strada Foundation, published a guidebook for Poles working abroad, warning them about the dangers of labour exploitation.  Furthermore, an information campaign addressed to those coming to Poland to work was carried out by distributing leaflets within Polish consular offices in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.

    Law enforcement and public awareness campaigns have been carried out over previous years. Moreover, anti-trafficking training is provided on a regular basis, especially for police and border guards, officers, prosecutors, labour inspectors, social security staff, the Office for Foreigners staff who interview those seeking refugee status, and staff working in Refugee Centres.


    Assistance and support provided to victims

    The Act of Social Assistance provides that all victims of trafficking, both foreigners and Polish citizens, are entitled to social assistance funded within the governmental budget.

    Since 2006, a special support programme for foreigners has been implemented which includes crisis intervention and assisting victims during contact with law enforcement.Theis Programme is currently implemented within National Intervention and Consultation Centres for Victims of Trafficking.

    In March 2009, Poland’s Central Anti-Trafficking Police Unit issued a new set of guidelines on identifying victims of forced begging to regional police units around the country. A nationwide training program to improve the provision of assistance to trafficking victims was also initiated. There are also numerous training programs for law enforcement officials on victim identification.


    Assistance and support provided to victims

    According to the US State Department Trafficking Report, 206 victims of trafficking were identified by authorities in 2009,including 123 children in prostitution, compared with 315 victims identified by NGOs and government authorities in 2008. In total, 193 victims received some government-funded assistance. The government referred 22 victims for assistance in 2009.

    Residence permit

    From January 2009, the reflection period for foreign victims was extended from two to three months. During this period, the victim can reflect on whether s/he wants to participate in criminal proceedings.

    If the victim cooperates in criminal proceedings, s/he may apply for a six-month residence permit, which can be prolonged. Foreign victims of trafficking in human beings who are granted a six month residence permit have the right to work on the basis of permission issued by the appropriate unit within the regional authorities (Voivode), who are responsible for granting residence permits and work permits. However, potential forthcoming amendments to the Aliens Act include the possibility of work without such permission for victims/witnesses.

    In 2008, two victims used the reflection period and twenty one victims assisted law enforcement with trafficking investigations.


    Special protective measures for children

    There is no specific law concerning protective measures for child victims of human trafficking in Poland. According to Polish legislation, all children who are identified by law enforcement as victims of trafficking are granted the same forms of help as adults. These include medical and psycho-social support, legal assistance, safe shelter, and an interpreter if needed.

    Unaccompanied minors are directed to care centres for minors, and legal representatives are appointed for them by the custodial court. Foreign unaccompanied minors may also apply for a residence permit.

    In order to ensure better and more effective support for minor victims of trafficking, a comprehensive model for the support and protection of minor victims is currently being prepared. Since the end of 2009, the Programme for Support and Protection of Minor Victims has been tested as a regional pilot project in two voivodships. Its main aim is to harmonise existing procedures concerning the protection of children and to ensure the best interests of the child during his/her stay in Poland.


    Investigation and prosecution

    Latest number of prosecutions and convictions

    Polish law enforcement officials, as well as several non-governmental organisations, have continuously reported that the lack of a clear legal definition of trafficking in Poland’s Criminal Code limits effective prosecutions.

    According to prosecutor’s data, in 2008, 28 cases were finalised with indictment. Authorities prosecuted 78 individuals and 315 persons were found to be victims.

    In 2008, five traffickers were convicted; one of them was sentenced to imprisonment with a conditional suspension of its execution. The US TIP report mentions that in 2009, 52 trafficking offenders were convicted in Courts of First Instance under Articles 253 and 203, compared with 46 convictions in 2008. In 2008, the most recent year for post-appeal sentencing data, 30 out of 57 convicted traffickers received suspended sentences. The remaining 27 convicted traffickers were issued sentences ranging from one to five years’ imprisonment.


    Established multidisciplinary groups, special units and police groups etc.

    The Police Forces, the Border Guard and the Prosecutor’s Office, as well as regional governmental offices (Voivode) have all introduced special units and/or anti-trafficking assignments. These units are aimed at enhancing anti-trafficking responses and ensuring closer cooperation in investigative efforts.

    These include:

    • A Central Unit for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Human Organs, Child Pornography and Paedophilia in the Criminal Bureau of the National Police Headquarters, established in September 2006;
    • Teams in 16 regional headquarters of Police and Warsaw Metropolitan Police Headquarters (up to five persons);
    • A unit for monitoring and coordinating actions undertaken by the Border Guard in the field of preventing and combating human trafficking;
      • Thirteen anti-trafficking coordinators and twelve assistant coordinators in divisions ofthe Border Guard (officers from investigative units);
      • A special tool: “Algorithm of conduct of Law Enforcement officers in investigating potential cases of Trafficking in Human Beings” ;
      • A consultant in the General Prosecutor’s Office;
      • Sixteen anti-trafficking consultants within the Prosecutor’s Office;
      • A special tool: “Methodological guidelines for prosecutors carrying out or supervising criminal procedures dealing with trafficking in human beings”.

    In April 2008, a cooperation agreement between the Commander of the General Headquarters of Border Guards and the National Labour Inspector, including provisions on joint controls by Border Guard officers and labour inspectors, was signed. As a result, cases of human trafficking identified by labour inspectors are subject to investigations carried outby the specialised units of the Border Guard (under the supervision of a prosecutor). Such agreements are signed also at the level of voivodships.

    Moreover, at the beginning of 2009 a special section for the control of foreign labour was established in each voivodship’s labour inspectorate. There are approximately 150 labour inspectors trained in problems related to foreign labour and human trafficking.

     

    Latest initiatives/activities related to anti-trafficking policy

    Latest achievement:

    • The National Action Plan against Trafficking in Human Beings was adoptedin February 2013 by the inter-ministerialCommittee on Combating and Preventing Trafficking in human Beings; on 8th of March the consultations within the ministerial ended and the document is going to be send to the inter-ministerial consultations. It should be expected that the document will be adopted by the Council of Ministers
      on June 2013.

    Achievements for 2012:

    • Since January 2013 for the first time the implementation of the National Consulting and Intervention Centre for Polish and Foreign Victims of Trafficking (KCIK) - the public task ordered in open competition for NGOs by the Minister of the Interior is devoted to two NGOs (La Strada Foundation and PoMOC).
    • The Unit against THB of the MOI in 2012 within implementation of an awareness-raising tasks awarded the best Master’s thesis on THB and the best story chosen within two separate competitions for youths (13-19 years old) and students. 
    • The Unit against THB of the MOI is going to start a creation of the regional task forces against THB as a platform of exchanging information of the phenomenon and undertaking preventive actions. First task force was created in 2011 and is located in the central region of Poland.
    • At the end of the first half of 2013 the Act on foreigners is expected to be amended.
      On the basis on its amendment:
    • document proving a legal stay in Poland during so-called reflection period will be issued by LEAs officer. This permission will be prolonged since 3 to 4 months only for minor victims; for adults – 3 months (no changes);
    • voluntarily return for victims of THB on the basis on the agreement between MOI and IOM will be not limited (other foreigners are entitled to it only once during 2-years time);
    • easier process of obtaining Polish document for the victims of THB when a victim does not poses documents and his/her identity can not be proved;
    • if the person cooperates with LEAs a residence permit for definite period shall be granted for no less than 6 months up to 3 years;
    • a victim would be entitled for permanent stay in situation when his/her statements were important for a case and a victim’s life is in danger. Application is possible after stay in Poland for 2 years. Those victims will have a right to public supported education (special assistant and interpreteur) and will not be obliged to prove their proper language skill.
    • Border Guards officers will have a right to carry out investigations on THB when the case is only connected with this crime and use special investigation methods.

    After this amendment special Algorithm for LEAs leading a case of THB would be updated. There will be also a list of indicators included. The algorithm regarding children with indicators of THB will be a separate document or a part o the general one.

    Main challenges for 2013:

    • On 26-27 of November 2013 in Warsaw the Unit against THB of the MOI is going to organize an international conference on protection of victims. This event will be funded within the Norwegian Bilateral Fund and organized with the cooperation with CoE and IOM – Bureau in Poland. Draft programme envisages the discussion on identification of victims as well as ways to assurance in practice of the rights of victims such as right to the safe shelter, legal redress and compensation, safe return and rehabilitation. Conference will be organized for approx. 220 experts, including Eastern Partnership countries, CBSS countries, beneficiaries of Norway funds (Greece, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Portugal, Spain, Romania, Croatia, Malta), donors (Norway, Liechtenstein, Island).
      • The Unit against THB of the MOI implements a project “ADSTRINGO Poland and Russia – Addressing trafficking in human beings for labour exploitation through improved partnerships, enhanced diagnostics and intensified organisational approaches” funded by the Swedish Institute. Till June 2014 within the project there will be 2 national meetings as well as 6 regional meetings organized in order to discuss the problem of the role of recruitment agencies in the process of trafficking for labour exploitation. The main aim of the project is to analyse problems resulted from provisions and the system as well as to enhance regional partnerships. Regional report, guidelines for employers, recruitment agencies and other actors will be developed for the prevention of trafficking for forced labour and labour exploitation. The results of the activities in other CBSS countries implemented simultaneously will be presented at an international high-level conference during the Lithuanian EU Presidency.
      • As a continuation of the awareness raising actions connected with film festival funded in 2012 within ISEC funds, in October 2013 the Unit against THB is going to organize in
        6 towns a film review on human trafficking in cooperation with Police, Border Guards and NGOs. In the target group there will be both young people as well as adults.
        In addition, there will be a meetings organized for young people in order to discuss the film.
      • Preventive films for people going abroad in order to undertake work will be also prepared.
      • In the draft of the National Action Plan against Trafficking in Human Beings for 2013-2015 the following competitions to be organised by the Ministry of the Interior are included:
    • Competition for the best Master’s thesis;
    • Competition for the best comic book on trafficking for forced labour;
    • Competition for the best preventive poster.

    All competitions will be held in 2014, the best works will be chosen in 2014 or 2015.

    National Referral Mechanism

    National Referral Mechanism is connected with the “Programme for Support and Protection Victims/Witnesses of Trafficking in Human Beings” carried out by theLa Strada” Foundation as a task commissioned by the Ministry of the Interior. The NGO which implements the task was chosen within open competition for offers. 

    The program is initiated when a foreigner makes contact with law enforcement authorities (by reporting himself/herself or as a result of arrest), and when, after interrogation, it occurs that s/he might be a victim of human trafficking. The condition for the victim's participation in the Program is breaking contacts with the perpetrators. At the same time the victim is not obliged, however, to report the crime. Within the program a victim is entitled to so-called “reflection period”, so that s/he can take a decision whether to cooperate or not with the law enforcement authorities. During the “reflection period” the victim receives support.

    The program can be initiated by a representative of law enforcement authority (Police or Border Guard officer), who, acting in compliance with the Algorithm of law enforcement officers for the disclosure of human trafficking crimes, on recognizing that an alien may be a victim of human trafficking, fills in the program application form and sends it to the coordinator responsible for the implementation of the Program in the Ministry of the Interior, and notifies the appropriate coordinators in the Police, Border Guard and public prosecutor's office. The Programme could be also initiated by prosecutor. Coordinator in the Ministry accepts or rejects the application.

    If the victim expresses willingness to participate in the Program, s/he is immediately contacted with a representative of NGO which is running the Program. The representative of NGO analyses the victim's situation and, depending on his/her needs, provides financial, medical, psychological and/or legal assistance. The victim is placed in a secure place under the supervision of a trained social worker. The Program, then, guarantees the victim safe shelter, food, medical care, psychological support, legal assistance, services of an interpreter and, if necessary, transport within the country.

    If the person is a Polish citizen he/she could be assisted by the National Consulting and Intervention Centre for Victims of Trafficking (also implemented as a public task by NGO chosen in open competition of offers) without the need of previous formal identification by LEAs. Also a foreigner could be supported by the centre without his/her formal identification, but then s/he is not entitled to legalise his/her stay in Poland nor s/he is entitled to receive social assistance.

    Practitioners (LEAs, labour inspectors, social workers, trade unions members, consular personnel etc.) are encouraged to contact with the Centre or to inform a person about possible help offered by the Centre whenever they suspect that the person might be a victim of trafficking.

    It have to be underlined that there is no written document in the form of MoU that describe step by step obligation of institutions that could play role in the process of identification of the victim and his/her referral. These are guidelines for law enforcement agencies and separately – for prosecutors and social workers.

  • 4. EU AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

    The Polish police have signed special bilateral agreements in the field of operational information sharing with almost every European country as well as with many third countries. Cooperation between liaison officers (both Polish and accredited in Poland) has been crucial, especially with countries such as Belarus, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. Platforms such as Interpol and Europol are well used.

    In 2009, the Polish government had bilateral cooperation with Ukraine and Moldova, as countries of origin for victims identified in Poland, by implementing a training project aimed at exchanging best practice around prosecution of traffickers and supporting victims.

    Since 2008, the Central Unit for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings of the National Police Headquarters has taken part in Europol’s Analytical Working File (AWF) “Phoenix”. AWF's are used by the Polish police to share information with other Member States of the European Union in the field of human trafficking.

    Moreover, the Polish police take part in the COPSAT project (Joint Cooperation between Police and Social Service against Trafficking) implemented by the metropolitan Stockholm police for the cooperation of law enforcement, government authorities and non-governmental organizations from the following countries: Sweden, Estonia, Romania and Poland.

    Future plans in terms of implementation of the directive 2011/36/EU

    Poland is conducting action in order to increase the protection of minor victims and witnesses under the age of 18 years.

    A draft Criminal Procedure Code adopted by the Council of Ministers on 9 October 2012, which is currently analysed by the Upper House of the Polish Parliament, introduces several provisions in order to ensure an increased protection of victims and witnesses in trafficking in human beings cases. These changes include, among others, the following:

    • mandatory recording of image and sound during a hearing of a minor under the age of 15 years,
    • a single hearing of minors, who, at the time of the hearing, are over the age of 15 years, if there is justified fear that a hearing in other conditions might negatively affect their mental state,
    • a hearing of a minor witness, who is over the age of 15 years, without the participation of the accused, if there is fear that the presence of the accused at the hearing could have a constraining effect on the witness or might negatively affect their mental state.

    The entry of the abovementioned changes into force should increase the feeling of security of victims and witnesses and simultaneously serve to reduce trauma.

  • 5. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

    In April 2010, in accordance with the implementation of theNational Action Plan against Trafficking in Human Beings for 2009-2010, a pilot voivodshipteamfor trafficking in human beings was established, with the participation of representatives from the Police, the Border Guard, the Social Policy Departments of Voivodship Offices, the Labour Inspectorate, and non-governmental organisations. This team will be used as a platform for exchanging information to better support victims of trafficking, and as a mechanism for coordination and preventive and educational actions on the regional level. In 2010 the Ministry of Interior will undertake to encourage relevant actors to establish such teams in two other voivodships.

  • 6. RESOURCES

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