Experts discuss interventions and recommendations to improve access to compensation for trafficked persons

19 October 2010, Vienna, Austria

In comparison to the highly profitable trafficking crime, which is estimated to net traffickers 32 billion USD every year [1], the actual receipt of financial compensation received by victims of trafficking to-date is far from adequate. Compensation and redress to justice for victims of trafficking has wider implications in the fight against trafficking in persons. On a societal and moral level, it is symbolic to acknowledge the pain and suffering of victims. On a practical level, receipt of compensation provides victims with the finances to rebuild their lives. On a retributive level, when compensation is derived from seized assets of traffickers, this mechanism should work to punish and a deter perpetrators of this heinous crime.

To develop the discussion regarding compensation for trafficked victims, a Side Event entitled Access to Justice: Ensuring Compensation for Trafficked Victims was held on 19 October 2010, in the margins of Fifth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime Conference (UNTOC), conducted in Vienna from 18-22 October 2010.

The Side Event was organized by La Strada International and Anti- Slavery International, the two NGOs to initiate COMP.ACT, a 3 year project launched in July 2010. COM.PACT aims through practical work, such as research, test cases, the development of guidelines, awareness raising and campaigns to improve access to compensation for trafficked persons. The COMP.ACT project is currently run in 14 European partner counties including Austria, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Spain, Ukraine and United Kingdom.

The Side Event presented an opportunity for the exchange of best practice and knowledge, on how to access compensation for trafficked victims. Representatives from various anti-trafficking organizations drew attention to successful interventions which led to actual compensation outcomes. Examples included free legal aid and the provision of psychosocial support to trafficked victims. The presentations also raised awareness about the practical challenges that make compensation for trafficked persons difficult.

Proposed recommendations:

  • improve accessibility to victim support for trafficked victims;
  • introduce  guidelines for relevant professionals on the issuance of compensation;
  • provide more support for NGOs and services which assist trafficked victims;
  • revise frameworks which create barriers to compensation,  for instance residency permits and status;
  • address the existing disparities between legal systems, and standardize the definition, rules and legality relating to compensation;
  • increase inter-agency cooperation and dialogue;
  • involve State authorities in awareness raising and campaigns.

The Side Event was chaired by Ms. Alexia Taveau of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The panel participants included Mr. Jan Austad - Norwegian National Coordinator on Trafficking in Human Beings, Ms. Evelyn Probst - Coordinator LEFÖ-IBF Austria, Ms. Marieke van Doorninc - Advisor Public Affairs, La Strada International and Ms. Klara Skrivankova - Trafficking Programme Coordinator, Anti-Slavery International.

Working Group on Trafficking in Persons

The right to compensation and redress to justice of trafficked victims is duly recognized by UNODC and Member states. In this regard, the report submitted by the Chair of Working Group on Trafficking in Persons also conducted on 19 October 2010, in paragraphs 17 and 78 outlined the measures requiring implementation by State parties, in order to enable victims of trafficking to access compensation.

Related Information:

COM.PACT

Working Group on Trafficking in Persons

Fifth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime Conference

Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children

 



[1] International Labour Organization, A global alliance against forced labour (Geneva, 2005), p. 55, para 265.