Government must not impair protection of victims of trafficking in human beings
This is the reaction of Corinne Dettmeijer, the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings, to the intended policy of Minister Leers regarding the reflection period for foreign victims of trafficking in human beings. Minister Leers wants to cut back the reflection period for part of this group. It is not clear which problem he intends to solve by doing so. Dettmeijer requests the Minister to reconsider his policy in this respect, while referring, inter alia, to the research that she will present to the Minister today, 11 June 2012.
At this time, each foreign victim of trafficking in human beings is still entitled to a period of three months during which the victim can experience a period of quiet and can take time to decide whether he/she wants to make a report to the police or cooperate in the police investigation. If the Minister gets his way, this will change. He wants to differentiate between victims who are still in a trafficking situation or have escaped from such situation less than three months ago on the one hand, and victims who have escaped the trafficking situation more than three months ago on the other hand. He wants to abolish the reflection period for the latter group of victims.
According to the National Rapporteur, this is a bad idea. The three months’ term is just as important for this group, given the fact that they have experienced traumatic circumstances in many cases. They too need to be allowed a period of quiet, as well as guidance to make an informed decision on their wish or ability to file a report. The cooperation of victims is of vital importance for police investigations and it is essential for effectively combating trafficking in human beings. This is one of the reasons why victims must be treated well. Moreover, the intended measure is inconsistent with European legislation.
Dettmeijer’s research has shown that the assumptions on which Leers has based his policy are partly inaccurate. The National Rapporteur has investigated dismissed cases of human trafficking and has been allowed to inspect files on trafficking in human beings of the Immigration and Naturalisation Service and the Public Prosecution Service. These files have shown that more than half of the victims had not followed immigration law proceedings before, contrary to what is often stated or alleged. Most of the victims who did, were involved in just one action. Additionally, a majority of the victims contacts the police within one month after having been exploited, on average.