Combating human trafficking

The government takes a comprehensive approach to combating human trafficking and enlists all parties that can help. It also offers victims support.

What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking is transporting or selling human beings by force, for the purpose of exploiting them.  There are different kinds of human trafficking:

  • Labour exploitation: when a worker is forced to hand over all or part of their income and/or has to work in inhumane conditions.
  • Sexual exploitation: when a person is forced to have sex in return for money, clothes or food.
  • Criminal exploitation: when a person is forced to beg, steal or engage in other criminal activities, and hand over the goods or money to the exploiter.

A broad approach

Victims of human trafficking face coercion, violence and deception. Often they are afraid or unable to go the police.

In order to combat human trafficking it is vital that various parties work together. Recognising victims of human trafficking often involves spotting a combination of signs. Municipal front office staff, enforcement officers and inspectors may see these signs in the course of their duties. The Centre for Crime Prevention and Safety (CCV) provides guidance on what to do if you suspect human trafficking (in Dutch).

Task Force on Human Trafficking

The Task Force on Human Trafficking is a network of parties such as the Public Prosecution Service, the police, municipalities and civil society organisations. It enhances the Netherlands' approach to human trafficking by closely monitoring the latest developments and drawing up plans together.

Role of municipalities in combating human trafficking

Municipalities play an important role in tackling human trafficking, for instance by actively looking for and identifying the signs. Their staff receive training from the police on how to deal with human trafficking and there is a basic framework (in Dutch) in which they can operate.

For the rest, it is up to municipalities themselves to decide how they wish to fulfil their role in tackling human trafficking. For example, they can make rules and policy that help combat human trafficking. And they can provide appropriate shelter and care for victims of human trafficking within the municipality. These arrangements are governed by the Social Support Act and the Youth Act.

Helping victims of human trafficking

Central government has taken several measures to improve the assistance and support provided to victims of human trafficking, and ensure better access to these facilities.

One example is the National Referral Site for Human Trafficking. It explains what human trafficking is, how to recognise victims, what rights victims have and what arrangements are in place for them.

There are many organisations that identify and assist the victims of human trafficking. They include the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Centre (CoMensha) and the Social Affairs and Employment (SZW) Inspectorate. These organisations and others can be found on the National Referral Site for Human Trafficking.  

Reporting on human trafficking

The Dutch National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence against Children reports to the government on the nature and scale of these problems in the Netherlands. The Rapporteur provides an overview of policy on human trafficking and makes recommendations aimed at improving the Netherlands’ approach.

In order to produce its reports, the office of the National Rapporteur collects information from victim support services and organisations involved in preventing and combating human trafficking and sexual violence against children. The Rapporteur also maintains contacts with organisations abroad and international bodies.

The reports of the National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking and Sexual Violence against children (in Dutch) can be found on the website.