In a report on human rights practices in Portugal, the US State Department considers that the country has been effective in enforcing the law that prohibits all forms of forced labour, but stresses that the penalties for these crimes "are not proportional to those of other serious crimes".
The report also warns civil society of "the need to strengthen the monitoring and regulation of temporary work agencies".
State resources dedicated to preventing forced labour, including inspections, as well as for law enforcement "remain inadequate", the report argues, adding that those convicted of such crimes "often manage to avoid prison, undermining enforcement and victim protection efforts", citing reports from non-governmental organisations and the media.
Based on data from the Observatory on Human Trafficking, victims of human trafficking of foreign nationality are exploited in the sectors of agriculture, construction and domestic service, while Portuguese are mainly exploited in catering, agriculture and domestic service.
As for child labour, the report points out that it occurred in "very limited cases", mainly related to the exploitation of Roma children in begging or coercion to commit crimes against property.
"Sub-Saharan trafficking networks are increasingly using the country as a route into the Schengen area to exploit children in sex trafficking or forced labour," the report states.
The US State Department also considers that "violence against women, including domestic violence, continues to be a problem" in Portugal, recalling court sentences that mitigate sentences to aggressors based on moral judgments about the behaviour of the victims.