Sexual exploitation and sham marriages become more widespread again in Latvia - ombudsman

  • 2024-03-08
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Sexual exploitation and forced sham marriages become more visible again in Latvia, Ombudsman Juris Jansons says in his 2023 report on the prevention of human trafficking. 

In his report to the Saeima, the ombudsman notes that in Latvia trafficking in human beings is not static, and while labor exploitation was by far the most common form of trafficking in previous years, sexual exploitation and forced sham marriages are now becoming more visible again, causing suffering to more and more people. In parallel, some new trends are emerging, such as a case of a Latvian citizen recruited for forced begging in Poland, while in another case a person was forced to commit a criminal offence.

Latvia recorded 48 human trafficking victims in 2020, 61 in 2021 and 26 in 2022. Across the European Union (EU), by comparison, 7,155 human trafficking victims were reported in 2021, an increase of 10 percent against 2020. 

The ombudsman notes in his report that the issue of trafficking risks for asylum seekers, especially unaccompanied minors, remained a serious problem also last year. The ombudsman therefore organized a two-day training for custody courts' employees. Altogether, 59 employees from 26 custody courts were trained to detect trafficking risks.

In 2023, the ombudsman continued work on a human rights standards-based approach to public procurement procedures and, in cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior and the Procurement Monitoring Bureau, started work on the development of guidelines to prevent the risks of human trafficking and labor exploitation in public procurement.