Protection, Support and Assistance
Due to the specific effects of trafficking, described above,
victims require comprehensive assistance in both destination and
transit countries. It is crucial that victim protection and assistance
continue when the victim is returned to her country of origin.
Basic assistance should include the provision of safe accommodation,
medical care, psychological counseling, legal counseling and,
if needed, vocational training and education.
Although related, victim protection and witness protection may
take different forms. All victims, regardless of whether they
serve as witnesses, are entitled to protection of their basic
human rights. At the same time, when victims of trafficking act
as witnesses in court proceedings, they require additional protections.
Under principles of international law, States are obligated to
provide adequate support for victims of crimes. The United Nations
of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse
of Power states that victims are entitled to access the justice
system and prompt redress (Paragraph 4). Regarding assistance,
the Declaration states "Victims should receive the necessary
material, medical, psychological and social assistance through
governmental, voluntary, community-based and indigenous means.
. . . Victims should be informed of the availability of health
and social services and other relevant assistance and be readily
afforded access to them." (Paragraphs 14, 15). Governments
of countries of origin also have the obligation of ensure citizens
basic human rights to social services.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play a critical role in
the protection of trafficking victims and the provision of services.
In 2001, the Office
for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) published
Guide for Anti- Trafficking Legislative Review , which also
available in Russian (Руководящие
Людьми) and Serbian (Priručnik
za Reviziju Zakonske Regulative protiv Trgovine Ljudima).
The Reference Guide includes detailed information about existing
legislation that ensures protection of and assistance for victims
of trafficking and also describes the role of NGOs:
The types of services and assistance required by trafficking
victims varies somewhat depending on whether the victim is still
in the destination country or has returned to her country of origin.
In the destination country, a victim's most immediate need may
be for safe accommodation and legal counseling to assist with
immigration issues. Many NGOs have responded to the need for safe
accommodation by creating temporary shelters for victims of trafficking.
More information about the creation and management of shelters
for victims of violence can be found in the Training
Trafficking victims rarely have legal residency status in the
destination country, which may result in limited access to social
services or legal assistance. Despite the reluctance of many destination
countries to confer legal residence status upon trafficking victims,
there is a growing recognition that victim safety cannot be adequately
ensured without granting at least temporary residency. The UN,
regional human rights bodies and national governments have implemented
recommendations and regulations
that provide for both temporary and permanent residency permits
to trafficking victims. A trafficking victim may also be eligible
for asylum in the destination country, and she should be provided
with legal assistance in this application process in a language
Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons
lays out obligations to both origin and destination countries
to implement measures to "provide for the physical, psychological
and social recovery of victims of trafficking . . . [including]
Medical, psychological and material assistance." NGOs can
play an important role in identifying the type of services needed
by the victim, providing referrals, assisting the victim in making
appointments with and visiting health care professionals and,
in some cases, through the direct provision of services. While
trafficking victims in the destination country may be in acute
need of medical or psychological treatment, they also frequently
require other more long-term medical care when they return to
the home country. NGOs that work closely with victims and know
of their specific needs can advocate for the continuation of services
for the victim in the country from which she originated.
A victim of trafficking may serve as a witness for legal proceedings
in the destination country. Like victims who do not work with
authorities, witnesses to trafficking should be afforded protection
and offered basic services. Anti-Slavery International, a British
NGO, has advocated for effective witness protection in the context
of trafficking as well as created a human rights framework for
a witness protection program. In a 2001 presentation
at a regional trafficking conference by Elaine Pearson, the Trafficking
Program Officer for Anti-Slavery International, temporary residency
status is described as integral to a witness protection program.
An effective and credible witness must be prepared to cooperate
with authorities. Thus, Anti-Slavery International advocates for
the residency period to include an adequate "rest period,"
a time in which the victim will receive necessary shelter, financial
assistance, medical and counseling services and can recover without
fear of threats, intimidation or deportation. Temporary residency
status should also provide the victim with the right to work.
The right to work is important so that the victim can begin to
become financially stable.
Even after a victim of trafficking has been returned to her home
country, the need for protection and assistance continue. The
process of reintegration can be
enormously difficult for trafficking victims. Rehabilitation programs
should include all of the services mentioned above in the context
of destination countries: shelter, financial assistance and health
care. In addition, in order to reintegrate and begin new lives,
trafficking victims can benefit from education programs, such
as job training or vocational skills courses.
NGOs can also provide support for victims of trafficking through
advocacy for protection of victims' rights. For example, three
leading NGOs, the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, the
Foundation Against Trafficking in Women and the International
Human Rights Law Group, collaborated on the drafting of Human
Rights Standards for the Treatment of Trafficked Persons,
which enumerates concrete actions that governments should undertake
to fulfill their obligations to protect and assist victims of