1. GENERAL INFORMATION- SITUATION ON TRAFFICKING IN HUMAN BEINGS
Human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation is still the main form of human trafficking in Germany. Human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation also exists, but to a lesser extent. In isolated cases, criminal proceedings have been conducted concerning human trafficking for the purpose of exploitation by means of forced criminal activity and for the purpose of forced begging.
The great increase in the number of asylum seekers seen in Germany in recent years has an impact on the number of victims receiving support in Germany’s specialised counselling centres for victims of human trafficking. Looking at the statistics published by the specialised counselling centres for victims of human trafficking over the past few years, it can be seen that in some regions of Germany the number of cases involving victims of human trafficking in the context of migration and flight have risen significantly in line with the increase in the number of refugees in Germany overall.
a) Human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation
Human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation affects almost exclusively young women, including many minors, who largely originate from Romania, Bulgaria, Nigeria and Germany.
The internet plays an ever-greater role, both in the recruitment process and as a platform on which to advertise prostitution. The specialised counselling centres (NGOs) have reported a significant increase in victim witnesses who have been lured into prostitution through the “loverboy” method. Contact initiation largely takes place in online chatrooms.
The increasing relocation of prostitution seen throughout Germany to private accommodation and hotels arising from the broad-based communication opportunities offered by the internet is leading to a change in the role of the red light district and poses new challenges for the criminal prosecution authorities.
b) Human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation
Human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation mainly involves the building and construction industry, the hospitality trade, farming and the domestic services sector. The victims usually originate from Eastern Europe, mainly Poland and Romania.
More information can be found in the BKA-Situation Reports on Trafficking in Human Beings:
2. INSTITUTIONAL, LEGAL AND POLICY FRAMEWORK TO ADDRESS TRAFFICKING IN HUMAN BEINGS
Relevant Recent Legislation
a) Act to Improve Action Against Human Trafficking
With the Act to Improve Action Against Human Trafficking and to Amend the Federal Central Criminal Register Act and Book VIII of the Social Code, which entered into force on 15 October 2016, Germany transposed Directive 2011/36EU into national law.
Full text of the relevant regulations in the German criminal code:
b) Act on Regulating the Business of Prostitution and Protecting Persons Working in Prostitution
To improve working conditions in legal prostitution and to protect prostitutes against exploitation, forced prostitution and human trafficking, the German Bundestag passed a law on 7 July 2016 to regulate the prostitution trade and protect sex workers (Prostituiertenschutzgesetz - ProstSchG). The new “Act on Regulating the Business of Prostitution and Protecting Persons Working in Prostitution” applies throughout Germany to all prostitutes, their clients, and the operators of prostitution establishments. The law provides comprehensive regulations for prostitution in Germany for the first time and entered into force on 1 July 2017. The aim of the law is to create a legislative basis for guaranteeing contractual working conditions, protecting the health of prostitutes, and combatting crime in prostitution, such as human trafficking, violence against and the exploitation of prostitutes, and procuration.
The new registration ordinance for prostitutes (Prostitutionsanmeldeverordnung- ProstAV) and the statistics regulation (Prostitutions-Statistikverordnung- ProstStatV) entered into force on 1st of July 2017.
The ProstStatV is the legal basis for setting up the federal statistics to provide valid data on the number of registered prostitutes and brothels for the first time. An intermediate implementation report is foreseen after 2 years based on the basis of available statistical data.
c) Act on Redefining Residence Rights and Termination of Residency
In its Section 25 (4a), the Act on the Residence, Employment and Integration of Foreigners in the Federal Territory of the Federal Republic of Germany contains a special humanitarian provision on the issuance of a residence permit to, among others, a victim of human trafficking. With the Act on Redefining Residence Rights and Termination of Residency, additional provisions improving residence rights for victims of human trafficking entered into force on 1 August 2015. A permit should be granted if (inter alia) the individual in question shows a willingness to testify as a witness in the criminal proceedings concerning the offence committed against them. In addition, after conclusion of the criminal proceedings against the perpetrators the permit should be prolonged if the foreign individual’s continued presence in Germany is required for humanitarian or personal reasons, or for matters of public interest. With regard to extending the duration of the residence permit, it is no longer reliant on whether the continued presence of the foreign individual is required for the criminal proceedings to commence.
d) Act to Reform Asset Recovery in Criminal Law
In order to strengthen and streamline the effective confiscation of assets, Germany passed new asset confiscation legislation in 2017 that comprehensively reformed existing provisions. It entered into force on 1 July 2017. Victim compensation has been fundamentally reformed, the new model guarantees consistent and fair compensation for all injured parties while at the same time unburdening courts and prosecutors by moving victim compensation to the stage of enforcement proceedings.
The state is now enabled to confiscate the proceeds from criminal acts even if the victim has an own claim for compensation (e.g. human trafficking or exploitative prostitution). Victims will receive compensation from the confiscated assets in a simple process. The victims of criminal acts must, therefore, no longer exercise their rights in making a claim against the perpetrator, as has been the case up to now. Rather, they only have to assert their claim at the stage of enforcement proceedings. Where multiple victims are involved, they are equally compensated. The law provides that victims be informed about their options regarding compensation.
Also, assets of uncertain origin which are secured in criminal proceedings concerning the suspicion of specific serious offences involving terrorism and organised crime, such as commercial and gang-based activities in human trafficking, may also be confiscated if the individual affected by the confiscation cannot be investigated or prosecuted for the offence and the court is convinced that the confiscated assets originated from a criminal act. The court’s conviction that assets have a criminal source can be based on a major disparity between the value of the asset and the lawful income of the individual concerned. Also, the other personal and financial circumstances of the individual whose assets were confiscated may also be relevant.
e) Crime Victims Compensation Act
With the Crime Victims Compensation Act, Germany has a comprehensive victim compensation system. Certain benefits have been increased during the last years. Other changes which benefit victims of human trafficking are to follow with the planned reform of the Social Compensation Act, inter alia the possibility of granting compensation also to victims of psychic violence.
Full text of German laws can be found:
The Federal Republic of Germany is a federal state with 16 Länder as constituent states. The exercise of sovereign power is divided between the Federal Government and the Länder (state) governments in accordance with the provisions of the German Basic Law.
With regard to human trafficking, the Länder have far-reaching responsibilities. For example, it is noted that as a general rule (i.e. exceptions apart) the criminal prosecution authorities in the individual Länder are responsible for the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking. They are also responsible, in line with the federal structure, for providing general advice and assistance for victims.
a) Federal Working Group on Trafficking in Human Beings
In order to facilitate the co-ordination of activities between all relevant stakeholders in the field of action against trafficking in human beings, working groups have been set up for particular policy areas. The Federal Working Group on Trafficking in Human Beings has performed a co-ordinating role since 1997. The Federal Working Group functions under the chair of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth and meets at least twice a year. It is composed of representatives of relevant federal ministries, the Federal Criminal Police Office, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, one representative each from the technical conferences of Länder ministries of the interior, justice, social affairs and equality, the NGOs KOK and SOLWODI, the Federal Association of Non-statutory Welfare, and the German Institute for Human Rights. The tasks of the working group include the exchange of information on activities, analysis of specific problems in combating human trafficking, development of guidelines and, where appropriate, joint action to resolve the identified problems.
b) Federal Government-Länder Working Group on Combating Human Trafficking for the Purpose of Labour Exploitation
In addition to the existing Federal Government-Länder Working Group on Trafficking in Human Beings, a Federal Government-Länder Working Group on Combating Human Trafficking for the Purpose of Labour Exploitation was established at the Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs in February 2015 with the aim of developing by the end of 2016 a strategy to combat human trafficking for the purpose of work exploitation. Alongside Federal and Länder ministries, representatives from the Federal Criminal Police Office, the Länder criminal police offices, public prosecutors, the Financial Monitoring Unit to Combat Illicit Employment (FKS), the social partners and non-governmental organisations – notably KOK – are all involved.
The BMAS working Group focuses on the following topics:
- Counselling and assistance for victims of human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation
- Prevention, awareness-building and public relations
- Criminal prosecution of human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation
In the meantime a strategy (based on the input from the three sub-working groups) to combat human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation was developed as a living document.
c) Working group Trafficking with Children/Tourism and International Cooperation
To supplement the Federal Government-Länder Working Group on Protecting Children and Young People Against Sexual Violence and Exploitation under the responsibility of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, the working group Trafficking with Children/Tourism and International Cooperation recommenced its work in 2016. The group comprises representatives of the Federal Government, the Länder governments and non-governmental organisations, and focuses on the topic of human trafficking in minors.
Ø Consultation process on reforming the federal coordination structures
At the initiative of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth and on the basis of an expert report prepared by the German Institute for Human Rights in 2016, a joint consultation process of the federal ministries was launched to assess the creation of an independent national reporting agency (National Rapporteurs under Article 19 of Directive 2011/36/EU) and the possibility of creating a mechanism to improve coordination of all Federal Government strategies and measures to combat human trafficking. The aim is to implement the new structures in the ongoing legislative period.
a) Violence against women support hotline
The Violence against women support hotline on 08000 116 016 advises women affected by violence throughout Germany all 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 can provide advice on all forms of violence against women, including trafficking. Victims or people wishing to help victims can also consult the website at www.hilfetelefon.de 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 18 different languages. People who have difficulty hearing can request a free interpreter service via the website.
b) Non-governmental organisations and other civil society actors
Specialised counselling centres are NGOs registered as associations which offer advice and support to victims of trafficking in human beings. The counselling centres help with the detection and identification of THB victims and support them in many ways. In most Länder co-operation agreements with the police clarify respective roles during the identification process. NGOs also participate in regional round tables. Some NGOs also proactively detect victims of trafficking through outreach work in streets where prostitutes work or by contacting women working in brothels. Moreover, many NGOs are active in training, prevention and awareness-raising initiatives.
The German NGO network and cooperation office against trafficking in human beings (KOK) is an alliance of non-governmental organisations working to combat human trafficking. The specialised counselling centres are members of KOK. Its role is to act as a national and international interface between counselling services, public and policy actors and key international organisations. KOK’s main activities are networking, both between member organisations and with other players, lobbying, education work and knowledge transfer. KOK has been funded by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth since 1999.
c) Service Centre against labour exploitation, forced labour and human trafficking
A Service Centre against labour exploitation, forced labour and human trafficking was established in fall 2017.
This Centre aims to build up and expand co-operation structures amongst stakeholders in Germany, who work in the field of labour exploitaion, forced labour and human trafficking. By providing information and raising awareness the Service Centre contributes to achieving a better understanding and consciousness for exploitative working conditions amongst actors on the federal, state and municipal level.
The following activities are on the agenda:
- Stocktaking and documentation of state-specific regulations and activities
- Providing trainings on legal frameworks, identification of victims and co-operation with relevant actors
- Providing information material on labour exploitation, forced labour and human trafficking through an internet-based information platform
- Promotion of international exchange
Federal and Länder Police Forces
The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is the central office of the German criminal police and as such the central point of contact for domestic and foreign police and judicial authorities. The BKA facilitates exchanges of information and promotes co-operation in investigative and judicial matters. In exceptional cases, on request from a competent Länder-level authority, the BKA itself may carry out investigations where offenders operate on a trans-regional or international basis, where it is necessary to make investigations abroad or where the Länder units do not have the capacity to handle the matter effectively. Though, criminal investigations, including those concerning trafficking offences, are almost exclusively carried out by Länder police units: either by local criminal police units, or by the criminal police office of the Land.
The BKA provides ongoing training (with two to three training courses per year) for federal and Länder investigators dealing with human trafficking offences and workshops for staff of counselling centres, police officers and representatives of other agencies responsible for victims of human trafficking. In addition, the BKA compiles the annual National Situation Report on Trafficking in Human Beings, which comprises statistics reflecting the outcome of police investigations based on data submitted by the Länder police forces.
3. NATIONAL ACTION PLAN
In addition to the adoption of the above mentioned legislative acts, the Federal Government has undertaken several initiatives over the last few years to prevent trafficking in human beings, prosecute traffickers and protect victims and ensure their access to rights. These include:
The National Cooperation Strategy on Protecting and Supporting Child Victims of Trafficking and Exploitation
In 2017 the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth published the draft of a National Cooperation Strategy on Protecting and Supporting Child Victims of Trafficking and Exploitation, which was jointly developed by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth and ECPAT Deutschland e.V. with input from experts and practitioners, especially KOK, BKA and the International Social Service.
The National Cooperation Strategy is designed as a nation-wide set of recommendations for the development of a new cooperation mechanism or for use in expanding existing Länder-level cooperation mechanisms. It provides a framework for a cooperation mechanism and enables alignment with the prevailing requirements and structures in a given Land. The cooperation strategy contains action-oriented measures and recommendations for organisational and communicative structures which enable ongoing, person-independent cooperation and collaboration at local level. It provides an insight into definition-based distinctions, legal and policy frameworks, looks at all forms of human trafficking for the purpose of exploitation, names potential cooperation partners and provides information on their responsibilities and work processes. The strategy also lists contact data and service points in the various Länder, and illustrates how identification of child victims can be promoted, including through the use of a list of child trafficking indicators.
4. CROSS-BORDER COOPERATION TO ADDRESS TRAFFICKING IN HUMAN BEINGS
At multilateral level, the Federal Government continues to actively cooperate in all relevant bodies such as the European Union, the Council of Europe, the United Nations and the International Labour Organization (ILO). This also applies in lesser form, to other bodies of the OSCE and the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS).
5. RELEVANT REPORTS
Country reports on Germany of the GRETA-monitoring process of the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings can be found here:
6. RELEVANT LINKS TO NATIONAL AUTHORITIES/INSTITUTIONS WEBSITES AND OTHER RELEVANT CONTACTS
- Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth:
- Federal Ministry of the Interior:
- Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection:
- Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs:
- Federal Foreign Office:
- Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development:
Federal Criminal Police Office:
Federal Office for Migration and Refugees:
Victim Support, NGOs and Human Rights Organisations:
- The Violence against Women Support Hotline:
- The German NGO network and cooperation office against trafficking in human beings (KOK):
- Service Centre against labour exploitation, forced labour and human trafficking:
-German Institute for Human Rights: