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.