Online Toolkit to Combat Trafficking in Persons

Chapter 6 - Victim Identification

Tool 6.1 Non-criminalization of trafficking victims

Tool 6.2 Considerations before identification

Tool 6.3 Guidelines on victim identification

Tool 6.4 Indicators of trafficking

Tool 6.5 Initial interview

Tool 6.6 Screening interview form of the International Organization for Migration for the identification of victims of trafficking

Tool 6.7 Checklists to facilitate victim identification

Tool 6.8 Health-care providers' tool for identifying victims

Tool 6.9 Interviewing tips for health-care practitioners

Tool 6.10 Law enforcement tool for victim identification

Tool 6.11 Interviewing tips for law enforcers

Tool 6.12 Ethical and safe interviewing conduct

Tool 6.13 Victim certification

Tool 6.14 Training material

The early identification of trafficked persons is a prerequisite for their recognition as victims and, consequently, their access to assistance and protection. Persons who are likely to be in contact with victims (such as the police and justice officials and staff of health and social services) should receive training in order to enable them to identify victims and to be sensitive to their needs. This is especially significant for those who may come into contact with victims of trafficking who are without the resources of citizenship in the destination State and are thus especially vulnerable.

It is crucial to enlist the cooperation of all persons and groups that come into contact with victims of trafficking, such as border guards, police and immigration officers, doctors, medical and social workers, housing and agricultural inspectors, and staff of organizations concerned with the rights of immigrants, women and victims, as well as refugee protection and asylum organizations. Proper training can help these various individuals to identify trafficked persons in order to refer them to victim support organizations. A network of professionals and agencies should be involved in the identification of potential victims and should work together in order to protect victims and ensure a referral network without gaps.

Outreach work can be a crucial element of efforts to identify and support victims of trafficking in the environment in which they are forced to work. This outreach work is typically performed by social service agencies and non-governmental organizations. Health-care providers are also part of the front-line services that may come into contact with victims. More information on assisting victims of human trafficking is available in Chapter 8, Victim assistance.

Focus on the victim!

Sometimes States focus on victims for the information they can provide or their usefulness to the criminal justice system. In their rush to achieve objectives (such as to prosecute traffickers), the victim may be treated as a pawn and not as a human being in need of protection and assistance. This chapter discusses the need to not criminalize victims of trafficking ( Tool 6.1) and raises issues to be considered before victims are identified ( Tool 6.2). The chapter also offers guidelines on victim identification ( Tool 6.3), indicators of trafficking ( Tool 6.4) and an overview of the initial interview ( Tool 6.5). The IOM victim screening interview form is provided in Tool 6.6 and other examples of checklists to facilitate victim identification are contained in Tool 6.7. Both health-care providers and law enforcers come into contact with potential victims and may have to interview and identify them. Tool 6.8 is intended to assist health-care providers and Tool 6.9 offers them specific tips on conducting interviews. Similarly, Tool 6.10 and Tool 6.11 offer law enforcers guidance and tips on their conduct with respect to potential and actual victims of trafficking.

The chapter emphasizes interviewing which is ethical and safe for interviewees, including children ( Tool 6.12) and recommends a process of certifying victims to facilitate both their access to assistance and the provision of assistance by victims to the criminal justice system ( Tool 6.13). Lastly, recommended are resources to build capacity with respect to victim identification ( Tool 6.14).

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