More and more often police in Latvia find out that prostitution in the country is organized by family members, carrying out this crime in isolated areas, as mentioned in Interior Ministry’s Report on the work done to combat human trafficking and slavery in 2015.
Last year, Latvia’s law enforcement authorities focused more on combating prostitution, as well as combating organized crime groups in this field. This particular crime is closely tied to human trafficking masked as legal business. In addition, police often find that prostitution is organized by family members in isolated regions.
Although prostitution is hard to uncover and prove, Interior Ministry notes that work of law enforcement institutions is focused on prosecuting organizers and accomplices. In 2015, it was possible to prosecute multiple criminal groups for prostitution.
Last year, State Police launched three criminal processes for human trafficking and six criminal processes for sexual abuse and forcing others to participate in illegal sexual acts. Three criminal cases regarding human trafficking and four criminal cases regarding forced sexual abuse of individuals had been submitted to court for prosecution. Police identified ten human trafficking victims last year. Three of them were minors.
It is mentioned in the report that efforts to combat organized crime groups involved in human trafficking have been met with opposition from criminal groups. Criminals now pay more attention to careful planning of crimes, more refined schemes and keeping their activities secret. With that, it is hard to prove the fact of a crime being committed with open investigation methods. Because of that, law enforcement authorities have to organize secret investigation measures.
There is no especially high risk of human trafficking in Latvia. Nevertheless, youngsters from both genders, mostly unemployed and without good education are at risk the most.
Not a single case of human trafficking to and from Latvia was noted in 2015. Most often, criminals force others to participate in prostitution under false pretences. One method is the use of fictive marriages.
Recruitment usually takes place on the Internet and social networks. Recruiters provide travel costs to make sure the target comes to the country. Sometimes criminals even offer to accompany victims in person. Police note that prostitution recruiters apprehended by the police continue their criminal activities after being released from prison.
Latvia is known mainly as country of human trafficking victims. This means that Latvia’s citizens often become victims of human trafficking activities in other countries. State Border Guard has no authority to deny people the right to travel outside of Latvia if their documents are in order, notes the Interior Ministry.