Victims of people trafficking unjustly detained

Victims of people trafficking unjustly detained

19th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

A report just published reveals that victims of people trafficking are often unjustly locked away in cells intended for illegal aliens.

In many cases, once they have been arrested by the police or the military police (Koninklijke Marechaussee) for being illegal immigrants without residence.
Nebahat Albayrak
Nebahat Albayrak

The report entitled Uitgebuit (‘Exploited') is being presented to Deputy Justice Minister Nebahat Albayrak today. It was produced by Bonded Labour in the Netherlands (BlinN), an organisation which helps the victims of people trafficking and which is affiliated with Humanitas and Oxfam Novib.

Between June 2005 and December 2008, BlinN encountered 112 victims (88 women and 24 men) in detention facilities for illegal immigrants. They included 19 minors. Almost all of the victims had been sexually exploited or forced into prostitution.

Afraid to tell

It is difficult for the police or the military police to identify them as victims because not all of them are readily able to talk about their ordeal. In many cases they dare not tell their story because of bad experiences with corrupt police officers in their country of origin. Nonetheless, BlinN argues that the police and the military police should be more alert to signals that could indicate trafficking.

Even in cases where the victims do tell their story or press charges against the people who exploited them, things regularly go wrong. BlinN reports that the signs of trafficking are not always picked up on and the culprits are not charged or are charged too late. And under these circumstances, too, the victims often end up in immigration detention, sometimes for extended periods.

Entitled to protection and help
In detention, victims are not offered access to certain entitlements. A procedure, known as the "B9 procedure", gives victims three months to think about their next course of action and to decide whether they want to testify at criminal proceedings. The procedure also includes protection, help and a temporary residence permit.

Most of the victims come from Africa, mainly Nigeria. The number of victims from China is also considerable. In the course of 2007 and 2008, a relatively large proportion of the victims came from India.

In its report, BlinN argues that cooperation with detention facilities is essential:

"Spiritual counsellors, rehabilitation officers and medical workers had regular and direct contact with detainees and were in a position to recognise them as victims of people traffickers and to refer them to the relevant authorities."

NRC Handelsblad in partnership with RNW

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