Migrants: Support for human trafficking situations

Human Trafficking is a public crime that violates fundamental human rights, such as freedom, dignity and equality.

The crime of Human Trafficking is committed by anyone who offers, delivers, recruits, entices, accepts, transports, harbours or receives a minor or adult person for the purpose of exploitation, including sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, begging, slavery, the removal of organs or the exploitation of other criminal activities.

Reporting this crime can be made by anyone.

On this page you will find information on:

Para informações relacionadas com a situação de conflito na Ucrânia, consulte a página "Ucrânia: Informações e apoios disponíveis em Portugal".

How to recognise a victim of human trafficking

Unlike many other crimes, victims of trafficking may not recognise themselves as such.

The experiences lived by victims are often traumatic and complex, and can occur over a long period of time. And the impact that trafficking has on each one is highly variable.

However, there are signs that may indicate that a person is in a situation of trafficking:

  • he/she does not know how he/she obtained work documents
  • he/she paid excessive fees for transportation
  • he/she did not know where they were going to work
  • he/she paid someone to get the job
  • he/she has no employment contract or the terms and conditions of the contract are poorly defined
  • he/she does not understand the language in which the employment contract is written
  • he/she signed a new employment contract when he/she arrived at the workplace
  • he/she paid less than the legal minimum wage and less than promised
  • he/she does not have direct access to his/her earnings
  • he/she is subject to excessive and illegal wage deductions
  • he/she lives and sleeps at the workplace and/or in unsuitable and/or overcrowded places
  • he/she does not have access to food
  • he/she does not have access to basic hygiene facilities
  • he/she shows signs of being controlled by someone, either in person or by mobile phone
  • he/she shuns contact with other people
  • he/she has difficulty communicating in Portuguese
  • he/she appears to be afraid, sad, anxious and distrustful
  • he/she is aggressive and violent, as a consequence of the situation in which they are involved
  • he/she has bruises or signs of physical aggression
  • he/she has a weakened physical appearance and visibly weakened mental health
  • he/she gives answers instructed by others.

In the case of minors, it is also important to pay attention to the following signs:

  • if they are alone or do not recognise the adult persons they are with
  • if they are travelling without the company of adults or with a group that may not be their family
  • if they do not behave according to their age or lie about their age
  • if they don't seem to have friends
  • if they don't go to school
  • if they don’t go to medical appointments.

If there is a suspicion that a person is being trafficked, some questions can be asked to help clarify the situation, such as:

  • do you have your documents?
  • how did you learn about your job?
  • who booked and paid for your trip?
  • did you travel alone or were you accompanied by someone?
  • do you have a copy of the employment contract?
  • how many hours do you work a day and how much are you paid?
  • do your family and friends know where you are living?
  • can you contact or be contacted by your family and friends?

How to avoid entering a human trafficking network

If you are offered a job in Portugal, research information about the company in question and confirm the veracity of the offer.

Contact the Portuguese consular authorities in your home country to find out how to enter the country legally, whether for a short or long stay.

For more information, consult the immigrant portal of the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) and the European Union's immigration portal.

Contact details for human trafficking support

There is a support service for victims of human trafficking, where anyone can ask for support to detect signs of this crime, information on victims' rights, psychological support, support resources that exist and information on where to turn.

Learn how to request support for victims of human trafficking on the ePortugal portal.

For more information or if you need help, you can also consult the various helplines available on the website of the Observatory of Human Trafficking (OTSH).