The government maintained victim protection efforts. Police had chronic weaknesses in data collection. The national police changed its data collection methodology in 2017 making it difficult to compare data on victims. Police reported identifying 11 victims (14 in 2017, 38 in 2016, and 92 in 2015, and 67 in 2014), all female children, representing the lowest number of identified victims reported by the police since 2008; it was unclear whether the children were referred for services. However, the MOI reported a different set of police data; according to the MOI, the police referred 10 adult victims to the assistance program, the largest number since 2013. NGOs referred seven (19 in 2017 and 13 in 2016). There were 17 new victims total (five labor trafficking, two sex trafficking, and 10 both sex and labor trafficking) in the program for victim services (24 in 2017, 14 victims in 2016, four in 2015, and 43 in 2014). Of the victims in the program, nine women were from the Philippines, one woman from Sierra Leone, one man from Romania, and six people—three men and three women—from Czech Republic. The government did not officially recognize victims who did not participate in the MOI’s victim assistance program. In 2018, government-funded NGOs provided services to 180 potential victims (137 in 2017). While the government made some effort to identify foreign victims of labor trafficking among the increasing number of illegally employed foreigners from non-EU countries, observers noted there were persistent weaknesses. The government informed foreign worker populations of their rights, requirements and available job offers all around the country in nine different languages on the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs’ (MLSA) official webpage; however, the webpage lacked awareness information on potential trafficking indicators and available services. Border police and asylum and migration officials did not always proactively screen migrants for indicators of trafficking.
The MOI program, which was administered by an NGO, was available to both foreign and Czech adult male and female victims of sex and labor trafficking regardless of their legal status, and required victims to assist law enforcement if they want to stay in the program after 60 days of support, unless subject to a serious health issue. Foreign victims accepted into the program could receive temporary residence and work visas for the duration of relevant legal proceedings, and apply for long-term residency; two new victims received long-term residency in 2018 (none in 2017). The program provided medical care, psychological and crisis counseling, housing, legal representation, vocational training, and other specialized services. Victims could voluntarily withdraw from the program at any time. Victims unwilling to assist law enforcement were eligible to access MLSA-funded welfare benefits, including housing, in-person and telephone crisis help, social counseling and rehabilitation, a drop-in center for children and youth, and social services for families with children. The MOI-funded NGO managed these benefits for trafficking victims. Only legal residents could access the welfare program, but NGOs could provide most of the services anonymously; therefore, legal status was not usually a limitation for support. During legal proceedings, victims often received a free legal advocate. Although there was a unique national referral mechanism for child and youth victims, observers reported identification procedures, crisis support, and long-term services were insufficient. Municipal-level offices of the department of social and legal protection of children made decisions to place children with an institution or NGO. Child victims received MLSA-funded welfare benefits, such as shelter, food, clothing, and medical and psychological counseling.
The MOI allocated approximately 1.6 million koruna ($72,920) for the victim assistance program and voluntary returns, the same amount as in 2017; the program spent 1.4 million koruna ($63,810). An international organization used some of this funding to repatriate three victims (six in 2017). The MLSA provided an additional 36.37 million koruna ($1.66 million) to support the integration of foreigners and victims of trafficking, compared to 27.5 million koruna ($1.25 million) in 2017, which included funding for welfare benefits provided by NGOs to trafficking victims not in the MOI program. Some experts noted a lack of funding for victim housing, especially female victims with more than one child.
Some experts criticized the Refugee Facility Administration (RFA) for charging a daily fee to some migrants for stays in transit zones; such fees increase the vulnerability of potential victims. The RFA designed a process where potential victims identified in an entrance interview for asylum-seekers would be housed in a guarded facility or, if in immediate danger, referred to NGOs for services; the RFA did not identify any victims in the transit zones in 2017 or 2018.
Victims had the legal option of seeking court-ordered compensation from their traffickers through civil suits and obtaining restitution in criminal proceedings. However, courts rarely issued restitution to victims in criminal cases, and compensation was rare, as victims could not afford attorney fees for a civil suit. To seek civil damages, the law required a finding of criminal misconduct against the defendant. The government ordered one convicted trafficker to pay 50,000 koruna ($2,280) to a victim. NGOs reported concern about potential trafficking victims in custody going unidentified.