Israel is not fully complying with the minimal standards to eliminate human
trafficking, but is making considerable efforts to do so, according to the US
State Department’s 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report released on
While Israeli authorities have taken steps to fight human
trafficking, “the government continued to take inadequate steps, however, to
identify and protect labor trafficking victims and prosecute and convict labor
trafficking offenders in the reporting period,” the report states.
Knesset c'tee worried by disbandment of Sa'ar police unit
report refers to Israel as “a destination country for men and women subjected to
forced labor and sex trafficking.”
It recommends a series of steps to
improve the situation, and calls on authorities to “significantly increase
prosecutions, convictions, and punishment of labor trafficking offenders
(including “employers”) and offenses; ensure that labor trafficking crimes are
prosecuted under labor trafficking statutes; and ensure trafficking victims are
not penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being
It also calls for the government to deploy more labor
inspectors and translators to work in sectors that employ a high numbers of
foreign workers, and to bring an end to practices such as “binding,” which
restrict workers’ ability to change their employers in Israel, as well as
illegal brokerage fees.
The Trafficking in Persons report ranks Israel as
a tier-two country on its three-tier system.
Tier-two countries are ones
“whose governments do not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection
Act minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves
into compliance with those standards.”
First-tier countries are those
that are complying with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum
standards, while third tier countries do not comply, and are not making
significant efforts to do so.
Israel has company on the second-tier with
a large number of Middle East countries and third-world nations, but also
European countries such as Switzerland, Greece, Hungary, and Iceland. Third-tier
Middle East nations include Algeria, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
regard to the thousands of Africans who were trafficked across the Sinai
peninsula into Israel in 2010, the report calls on Israel to “strengthen victim
identification of migrants arriving from Sinai, and accord those trafficking
victims full protections and medical treatment.”
It also calls for an
immediate end to the practice of “hot return,” wherein migrants are caught and
immediately sent back to Egypt, where they are often killed or sent back to the
countries they fled.
The report offered some praise for “strong law
enforcement progress” against sex trafficking and labor trafficking, including
the first prosecution of an offender charged with trafficking a migrant
Israel’s 2006 Anti-Trafficking Law provides for penalties of up
to 16 years imprisonment for trafficking an adult and up to 20 years for
trafficking a child. In addition, it allows courts to sentence offenders to up
to 16 years imprisonment for slavery and seven years for forced
While the report says “these penalties are sufficiently stringent
and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape,”
it states that in 2010 seven sex traffickers were convicted under trafficking
statutes and received sentences ranging from six months community service to 8.5
years in prison with damages paid to the victim.
In addition, the report
cites the conviction of six sex traffickers on non-trafficking statutes who
received sentences ranging from 24 months to 7.5 years.
“continued to improve its protection of trafficking victims over the reporting
period,” even though the government “lacked effective procedures to identify
victims of labor trafficking, including migrant workers and migrants who entered
from the Sinai,” the report states.
As a result, many unidentified
victims have been prosecuted for labor violations, it states.
government “made sustained progress in preventing trafficking in persons over
the reporting period,” according to the report, which mentioned the opening of
several investigations and prosecutions of employees who charged illegal
recruitment fees and an amendment to the Foreign Workers Law passed in November
2010 that gives inspectors the authority to enter and examine private households
where migrants are employed.
In addition, the report cites the opening of
“456 cases of managing a property for the purpose of engaging persons in
prostitution and 27 cases of advertisement of prostitution services, in efforts
to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts.”
Upon the report’s release
on Monday, US Secretary State Hillary Clinton said that in recent years,
“governments have taken important steps, but we have to really mix the
commitments with actions in order to get results. For example, the number of
prosecutions worldwide has remained relatively static. And so the measure of
success can no longer be whether a country has passed laws, because so many have
in the last decade; now we have to make sure those laws are implemented and that
countries are using the tools that have been created for that.”
Zuaretz (Kadima), head of the Knesset Subcommittee on Trafficking of Women, said
the report “compels the State of Israel reexamine its methods of treatment,
prevention and enforcement in light of the changes in the patterns of human
trafficking. The State of Israel is still located in the second tier of
countries due to the fact that Israel has not done enough to examine the new
phenomenon of human trafficking taking place on the southern border of Israel
and in the [smuggler-run] torture camps in Sinai.
Zuaretz accused the
government of “not dealing seriously enough with the changes in the patterns of
human trafficking – trafficking of migrant workers and refugees. The current
report shed lights on the fact that the State of Israel is ignoring its
responsibility to take the right measures to wage war on this contemptible
phenomenon taking place in Israel’s backyard.”