12 September 2017

Increasing number of suspected human trafficking cases

The number of cases of suspected human trafficking detected by the Swedish Migration Agency continues to increase. This is shown by the Agency’s statistics from the first half of 2017.

In recent years, the trend has been clear. The Swedish Migration Agency is discovering suspected human trafficking in an increasing number of cases. In the first half of this year, 231 cases were reported, compared with 163 in the same period last year. 46 of the 231 cases so far this year involve minors. The Agency is finding suspected instances of human trafficking in asylum-, work permit- and family ties cases. In principle, the Swedish Migration Agency always reports suspected human trafficking to the Police.*

‘The increase has been going on for several years. An important reason for this is that the Agency's ability to discover suspicious cases has improved’, says Kajsa Törnqvist Netz, the coordinator for the Swedish Migration Agency’s anti-human trafficking efforts.

The Agency has invested in training, better tools and enhanced methods for detecting suspicious cases.

‘Our case officers’ level of awareness has clearly increased in recent years’, she says.

Kajsa Törnqvist Netz believes that the increase can also partly be explained by the large number of asylum seekers in 2015. As of now, the Swedish Migration Agency is still investigating cases from the autumn of 2015.

A new group

One group that Kajsa Törnqvist Netz has not previously seen in this context are asylum seekers from Cuba. 98 Cubans applied for asylum in Sweden during the period of 1 January 2016 to 30 June 2017. Cubans thus make up only a small group of all asylum seekers in Sweden, but at the same time, the Swedish Migration Agency notes an increase in the number of asylum seekers from Cuba in the first half of the year.

‘Among the Cubans, we have identified a relatively large percentage of the suspected victims of human trafficking. This includes both women and men, and we suspect that sexual exploitation may be involved, or unwarranted labour exploitation.’

The Swedish Migration Agency has maintained special contact with the Swedish Police Authority due to the Cuban cases.

‘There are some question marks in these cases that we need to straighten out. Among other things, we need to clarify how these persons have entered the Schengen Area, since only a small number of the asylum seekers from Cuba had a valid Schengen visa when they applied for asylum in Sweden’, Kajsa Törnqvist Netz says.

* An exception to this is when the suspected crime took place a long time ago, and the applicant has no information about where or how it occurred. In these cases, information is provided to the Police as intelligence information.


First half of 2017

231 suspected cases in all, 46 of which were minors

Involving sexual purposes: 118

Involving forced labour or unwarranted exploitation in the labour market: 64

Begging: 13

Military service: 4

Other purposes: 26

Unclear purpose: 19


Number of suspected cases in previous years

2016: 341 (91 of them minors)

2015: 195 (66 of them minors)

2014: 111 (13 of them minors)