European Network Against Trafficking in Human Beings

New publication

Identification and Protection Schemes for Victims of Trafficking in Persons in Europe. Tools and Best Practices

Document number
Identification and Protection Schemes for Victims of Trafficking in Persons in Europe. Tools and Best Practices
International Organization for Migration (IOM)
View/save PDF version of this document
Document type(s)
Guidelines/Recommendations, Training Material/Resources,
Identification (of Victims), Protection, Victims of trafficking, Trafficked persons, Sex tourism, Sexual exploitation, Palermo protocol; Child trafficking; Best Interests Principle, Labour exploitation, Domestic service, Irregular migrants, Unaccompanied minors, Family reunification, Guardian, Family Tracing, Age Assessment, Freedom from Detention, Interim Care, Health, Education, Training, Integration, Reflection period, Residency permit, Identification, Social assistance, Victim protection, Advocacy, Civil society, NGO, Human Rights approach,
Practical guide for law enforcement officers on the identification and protection of victims of trafficking in persons. The publication presents the results of active research and training activities carried out with delegations from 13 European countries. The country-based research took place between April and June 2005 in nine EU Members States (Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the United Kingdom), two EU candidate countries (Bulgaria and Romania) and two EU neighbouring countries (Moldova and Ukraine). The research looked into the national legislations and practices with regard to the identification and protection of trafficking victims and the nature of interagency and international cooperation in this respect. Generally speaking, European countries indicate a raise in the number of trafficking cases over the last years. The majority of the cases concern trafficking for sexual exploitation however, number of victims exploited for forced labour, illegal adoption and begging increased. Moreover, countries noted an increase in internal trafficking. Despite the improvement of statistical methods and information exchange, European countries still acknowledge a great need to set up adequate systems to collect and analyse data on trafficking in persons. Furthermore, the country-based research reveals that the majority of countries have specific legislation in place on trafficking in persons. Most countries have either ratified the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and related United Nations Trafficking Protocol or have concrete plans to do so. It can be said that almost all European countries have criminalized trafficking in persons. However, specific legislation on identification and screening of trafficking victims is far less common. Some countries have such legislation in place or have included provisions or guidelines on identification in National Actions Plans or Strategies. In some cases, these guidelines contain a list of indicators or work with standard questionnaires for interviewing suspected victims. Mostly, there is no formal process of identification and screening. Countries indicate that a wide range of national and international institutions, such as law enforcement officers, border guards, immigration staff, social and labour inspection services, hotlines, NGOs and international organizations etc., are involved in the identification process. Police operations (mostly of a specialized nature) are clearly recognized as the primary channel of identification in most countries. Border guards recognize their role in countertrafficking efforts. However, they usually find it difficult to identify victims since they have only a limited amount if time to assess the situation at the border and often the actual exploitation has not yet started yet. On the other hand, customs officers in most European countries are not always convinced that they can play a role on identifying victims of trafficking. With regard to victim protection, a significant number of countries have a (basic to extensive) legal framework for protecting victims of trafficking. In most countries, the offering of shelter and issuing of (temporary) residence permit is conditional and depends on the willingness of the victim to cooperate with law enforcement authorities. In this respect, the research also noted that most countries offer some kind of witness protection programme to victims of trafficking that testify against the trafficker during criminal proceedings. In general, the role that NGOs and international organization play in providing assistance to trafficking victims is considered of key importance. Moreover, important steps have been taken in the area of child victim protection. With reference to interagency cooperation and information sharing, countries considered it to be a fundamental component of counter-trafficking activities. In this context, several countries have established central coordination bodies or interministerial working groups. Generally speaking, cooperation between law enforcement authorities and NGOs is assessed as quite good. According to most countries, international cooperation in the area of fighting trafficking in persons shall be improved. However, Interpol and Europol have been recognized as major player in the field of cross-border information exchange. Moreover, countries acknowledged the progress that has been achieved in the last years on regional cooperation, e.g. the Southeastern European Cooperation Initiative and the Nordic Baltic Task Force on Trafficking in Human Beings. Finally, the research assessed the counter-training needs and gaps of the project target group, which includes border police, police and customs officers.
Related documents