Until 2007, the Penal Code of 1982 criminalized only trafficking for sexual exploitation (Article 217). This law was amended in 2007 to include trafficking for forced labour, removal of organs and other forms of trafficking (Article 160. º).

On the 23rd of August 2013, Portugal altered the article on THB (article 160.º of the Penal Code) due to the transposition of the Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA.

Presently, the definition of Trafficking in Persons considers:

  • Offer, deliver, recruitment, entices, accepts, harbors or receipt of persons for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation includes sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, forced begging, slavery, removal of organs or the exploitation of criminal activities;
  • By means of:
    • By violence, abduction or serious threat;
    • By fraudulent ruse or manipulation;
    • With abuse of authority resulting from a relationship of hierarchical, economic, work or family dependence;
    • By taking advantage of the psychic incapacity or situation of special vulnerability of the victim; or
    • Through obtaining consent from the person who has control over the victim.

 Will be punished with a prison term of from three to ten years.

The same penalty is applied in case of a minor.

  • In the case set forth in the previous number, if the agent uses any of the means set forth in the subsections of no. 1 or acts professionally or with the intention of monetary gain, he/she will be punished with a prison term of from three to twelve years.
  • The above penalties are aggravated in 1/3 (in their minimum and maximum) if the conduct mentioned has:
    • Endangered the victim’s life
    • Been committed with violence or has caused particularly serious harm to the victim;
    • Been committed by an employee in the exercise of their duties;
    • Been committed by an association criminal, or
    • As a result of the suicide victim.
  • Whoever, having knowledge of the practice of the crime set forth in nos. 1 and 2, to use the services or organs of the victim, will be punished with a prison term of from one to five years, if a longer term is not suitable because of another legal provision.
  • Whoever retains conceals damages or destroys the identification or travel documents of a person who is a victim of the crime set forth in nos. 1 and 2 will be punished with a prison term of up to three years, if a longer term is not suitable because of another legal provision.
  • The victims consent is irrelevant.

In 2012, the Portuguese Immigration Law that approved the legal framework of entry, permanence, exit and removal of foreigners into and out of national territory was also changed.  According to the new Law (nº. 29/2012 of August 9) on the residence permit issued to third-country nationals who are victims of trafficking in human beings or who have been the subjects of an action to facilitate illegal immigration, who cooperate with the competent authorities (Articles 109-115), victims of trafficking are granted a reflection period of a minimum of 30 and a maximum of 60 days. Residence permits are granted on a case by case basis for a period of one year, and are renewable under specific conditions. One of the innovations of this 2nd amendment is the criminalization of the employment of irregular migrants and the reinforcement of the combat of sham marriages.

Existence of the Crime Victim Compensation Fund which allows victims of crime in Portugal (either Portuguese or Foreigner)  to claim compensation for moral and material damages (Law nr. 104/2009 of 14 September 2009 on compensation for victims of violent crime and DL n 120/2010 of 27 October 2010).