The information booklet ‘The EU rights of victims of trafficking in human beings’ published today by the European Commission provides an overview of the rights and supports, derived from EU law, that are available to victims of human trafficking. These rights range from emergency assistance and health care to labour rights, access to justice and the possibility of compensation.
This document is addressed to victims and practitioners and seeks to provide a clear explanation of the rights of victims of trafficking in human beings that are derived from EU legislation. For victims to be able to exercise their rights they must first be informed of them. For the first time it brings together in a single document an explanation of all the rights of victims of trafficking in human beings with reference to the actual EU legislation.
This document also represents an important resource for national authorities in Member States. It provides an excellent foundation and template for the development of similar information booklets that would outline how victims of trafficking in human beings can access their rights in each Member State. The Minister will publish a user-friendly booklet that will outline how victims can access their rights in this country by the end of 2013.
Welcoming the publication, Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD said:
“Human trafficking is an appalling crime and a gross violation of human rights. It can have potentially devastating affects on its victims. Efforts at both international and national level have been ongoing for many years to combat this appalling crime and support it victims. Access to clear and user-friendly information about the rights and supports available to victims is vitally important. For victims to exercise their rights they must first be made aware of them. This document provides a much needed overview of those rights and will be a valuable resource for victims, practitioners and Member States.
My Department will build on this important document by developing a user-friendly booklet outlining how victims can exercise their rights inthis country by the end of 2013.”
The Irish Presidency of the European Council is currently working with all Member States to ensure that this document is most effectively utilised to strengthen the support of victims of trafficking in human beings. It is hoped that agreement on an effective approach can be reached at the Justice and Home Affairs Council, chaired by Minister Shatter, in June.
Minister Shatter said:
“All Member States recognise the need to identify, support and protect men, women and children who have been trafficked. The provision of information on rights is, of course, just one element of the fight against trafficking and the support of its victims, but it is a vitally important element. The Irish Presidency is working with Member States to develop an approach that will ensure that this document is used most effectively to support victims.”
EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström, who launched the document today in Brussels said:
"Minister Shatter has demonstrated a deep concern in relation to the issue of trafficking in human beings and has supported the Commission's work, including in developing this document. It is crucial that victims are informed about their rights. This overview will help authorities in EU Member States to deliver the assistance and protection that victims need and deserve. This is the result of two EU institutions complementing each other’s work, and I welcome the strong efforts of the Irish Presidency."
Note for Editors:
The publication of this document is provided for in the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings (2012-2016). The Strategy is a set of concrete and practical measures to be implemented over the next five years that will support and complement the implementation of EU legislation on Trafficking in Human Beings.
Action 4 of that Strategy concerns the Provision of Information on the Rights of Victims. It states that ‘Correspondence to the Commission over the years illustrates the problems individuals face in contacting the appropriate authorities or organisations in order to receive clear information on their rights to assistance and health care, their right to a residence permit and their labour rights, their rights regarding access to justice and to a lawyer, and on the possibilities of claiming compensation’. Therefore, ‘to inform victims of their rights and help them effectively exercise them, in 2013 the Commission will provide clear,
user-friendly information on the labour, social, victim and migrant rights that victims of trafficking in human beings have under EU law. As a follow-up, the Commission will help Member States provide and disseminate similar information at national level in 2014.
This document does not provide for the establishment of any new rights under EU law. Its purpose is to ensure that the rights of victims that already exist are set out clearly and, insofar as possible, in simple language that could be understood by a victim. It also provides for the first time in a single document all of the relevant EU legislation with an overview in simple language.
The document, ‘The EU Rights of Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings’, is available on the EU Commission’s website.