Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA): Reports published on the implementation of the Trafficking Convention by Belgium and Ireland, 25 September 2013

Date: 
Friday, October 18, 2013

Belgium

The Belgium Report applauds the country's improvements in the protection of trafficking victims and the prosecution of perpetrators. In particular, the Report cites the development of anti-trafficking structures in the police and Prosecutor's office, the successful prosecutions of companies and individuals, the raising of awareness among the public and professional groups through information and training, the granting of temporary stay permits for victims (which facilitates and encourages co-operation), the option of voluntary assisted returns for victims, and the provision of legal aid, accommodation, counseling and medical care in specialist trafficking centres.

However, the Report also suggests room for improvement in a number of areas, recommending greater co-ordination between relevant professionals, especially in child protection, and greater attention to Roma children, who are commonly trafficked for forced begging and petty offences.  In addition, the Report asks for an improvement in statistics collection and victim detection (especially of non-Belgian victims). This can be achieved through more training and information for 'front-line actors', including border staff, officials in irregular migrant centres, and judicial authorities.

See the full Belgium Report here.

Ireland

The Report on Ireland likewise makes positive and negative comments. The development of an anti-trafficking legislative framework, inter-institutional and international co-operation, inspections of private homes, and specialist care plans, information and legal aid for victims are all important signs of progress.

For the future, GRETA advocate new immigration legislation on trafficking and giving the rights of victims a statutory basis. Ireland is asked to further involve NGOs and civil society and focus more on identifying trafficking of children and labour exploitation, including by raising awareness. Also, the power to identify victims is too narrowly confined to a limited number of officials in the immigration bureau, and should be extended to become a multi-agency power, with input from NGOs. The Report calls for the establishment of specialised accommodation centres for trafficking victims, rather than housing them in centres for asylum seekers. While GRETA approves of the provision of a longer 'recovery and reflection period' than required by the Trafficking Convention (the minimum is 30 days), it is concerned that the provision is rarely applied to EEA nationals. GRETA also criticizes the lack of effective access to compensation, suggesting that prosecutors should always apply for compensation orders, and the eligibility conditions for the state compensation scheme should be reviewed. Although the guidelines for prosecutors are praised, a new provision is suggested to ensure that victims are not prosecuted for unlawful activities that they were compelled to take part in. The number of prosecutions is also worryingly low, the length of proceedings is too long, and witness/victim protection measures require improvement.

See the full Ireland Report here.
 


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Tags: 
Council of Europe
Belgium
Ireland