In total, in 2021, the State Police, NGO “Centrs MARTA” and NGO “Shelter “Safe House”” identified 61 victims of trafficking in human beings, which is slightly more than in 2020, when 48 victims were identified.
In general, a trend was observed that citizens of third countries, for example, from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, as well as India, were increasingly found among the identified victims. However, in 2021, this trend stopped and cases of domestic exploitation of Latvian nationals dominated. This could possibly be explained by the restrictions of COVID-19 – namely, among the victims identified in 2020 were those who arrived in Latvia before the start of the pandemic, but in 2021 these kinds of cases were less. This means that as the spread of the pandemic will decrease, the proportion of third-country nationals among the identified victims could increase again.
Victims identified in recent years were mostly exposed to labour exploitation, but trafficking for sexual exploitation or sham marriages were found less frequently. Also in 2021, most victims were involved in labour exploitation – a total of 53 victims out of 61 identified. 7 persons were trafficked into sexual exploitation and 1 person was trafficked into a sham marriage.
In addition, there is a pronounced gender dimension in trafficking in human beings, i.e. men are mostly subjected to labour exploitation, while girls and women are mostly subjected to sexual exploitation and sham marriages. The same trend was observed in 2021, as 49 men and 4 women were subjected to labour exploitation, 7 women were subjected to sexual exploitation and 1 woman was subjected to sham marriage.
Within the Project CAPE "Competence building, Assistance provision and Prosecution of labour Exploitation cases in the Baltic Sea region" several experts from Denmark, Germany, Latvia, Poland and Norway carried out researches on trafficking in human beings for labour exploitation.
New toolkit and guide released to help businesses prevent labour exploitation and trafficking in local supply and subcontracting chains
In recent years, cases of labour exploitation in supply/subcontracting chains have been uncovered around the world, as well as in Europe. Outsourcing of work or services through subcontractors/suppliers or use of temporary workers in flexible employment relationships heighten the risk of exploitative working conditions. The working conditions in lengthy subcontracting chains might be difficult for companies to uncover. Everything may seem legal on paper but in reality, exploited migrant workers might work long hours in poor conditions, which are below national standards, and they have little or no possibility to change their situation. To protect the rights of migrant workers, to promote fair competition and decent work, as well as to avoid negative publicity businesses have a responsibility to address the risk of labour exploitation and human trafficking in their subcontracting or supply chains.
Representatives of the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) Member States are cordially invited to participate at a Forum on Corporate Responsibility of Businesses: Prevention of Labour Exploitation which will focus on awareness raising of the employers by focusing on trafficking in human beings in a forced labour perspective and discussing exploitation of labour workers, and difference between unsatisfactory working conditions and being a victim of human trafficking by introducing concrete cases from the Nordic and Baltic countries and North-West Russia as well as from other Member States of the Council of the Baltic Sea States. The Forum will take place at the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Latvia in Riga on 6 – 7 June 2019.
The Ministry of the Interior of Latvia with support of the Permanent Secretariat of the Council of the Baltic Sea States hosted the international conference entitled “Human trafficking – a crime with too few convictions and too many victims” under the Latvian Presidency in the Council of the Baltic Sea States in Riga on 21 – 22 February 2019.
Stakeholders discuss national strategies and capacities to identify and assist victims of transnational human trafficking cases
On 18 December 2018 the Ministry of the Interior hosted a National meeting in the framework of the project HOF-BSR “Paving the Way for the Harmonized Operational Framework in the Baltic Sea Region” during which a national inter-institutional mapping exercise was conducted to point out existing strategies and capacities at the national and local level to identify victims of human trafficking, to provide rehabilitation and reintegration assistance with a particular focus on transnational cases of human trafficking.
Ten representatives of various organizations - Latvian Restaurants` Society, JSC Puzzle Financial, Latvian Television, society "Contemplatio", SJSC Riga International Airport, LLC Repharm, SJSC Latvian Railway, SJSC Road Traffic Safety Office, LLC Orkla Confectionery & Snacks Latvia, Ministry of the Interior - graduated a new business initiative – program of “Ambassadors of Responsible Business” led by the Corporate Social Responsibility Platform of Latvia (CSR Latvia).
Annual consultations of the CBSS Committee of Senior Officials with CBSS Observers under the Latvian CBSS Presidency
The Permanent Secretariat of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) hosted annual consultations of the CBSS Committee of Senior Officials with CBSS Observers under the Latvian CBSS Presidency in Stockholm on 23 October 2018. Currently the CBSS has designated eleven countries with Observer status – Belarus, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, the Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Closure meeting of the project "Enhancing Moldovan capacities in fighting against trafficking in human beings"
The General Police Inspectorate (Inspectoratul General De Politie) hosted the closure meeting of the international project “Enhancing Moldovan capacities in fighting against trafficking in human beings” (ICMPD/2018/MPF-240-003) on 15 October 2018 in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova.
In Helsinki, Finland on 4 - 5 October 2018 European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations (HEUNI) hosted a kick-off meeting of its new international project FLOW "Flow of illicit funds and victims of labour trafficking; undercovering the complexities" #FLOW_THB.