Together Against Trafficking in Human Beings

EMN Study on Identification of victims of trafficking in human beings in international protection and forced return procedures

EMN Study on Identification of victims of trafficking in human beings in international protection and forced return procedures

Identification of victims of trafficking in human beings in international protection and forced return procedures

European Migration Network Study, March 2014

This Synthesis Report presents the main findings of the Third 2013 EMN Focussed Study on “Identification of Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings in International Protection and Forced Return Procedures”. The aim of the Study was to examine whether, and how, potential victims of trafficking in human beings are detected and identified in these procedures in (Member) State. The study concerned both applicants for international protection and ‘failed’ applicants in forced return procedures who have received a (final) negative decision on their application(s) for protection or have abandoned the procedure. The Synthesis Report is based on the findings presented in 24 National Reports and developed in collaboration with the European Commission, EMN NCPs, and the EMN Service Provider.

For the Synthesis Report: Identification of victims of trafficking in human beings in international protection and forced return procedures

For the National Reports: EMN National Reports

key points to note:

  • EU legislation provides a holistic framework for the improved identification and protection of victims. Directive 2011/36/EU obliges the Member States who have opted into the Directive to set up systems for the early detection, identification, and assistance to victims, and the recently adopted EU asylum acquis introduces obligations to identify and provide additional support to vulnerable applicants including victims of trafficking in human beings. Both sets of provisions strengthen the possibilities for victims to seek protection.
  • Around half of all (Member) States have some data on victims detected when in international protection procedures, but the data sources are inconsistent and incomplete making it difficult to give a comprehensive picture of the scope of the problem at EU level. Nonetheless the fact that there is evidence of victims going unidentified may mean they are not granted the protection and/or assistance available to them under EU law.
  • In view of this, proactive methods of detection in (Member) States can be considered good practice and a number of (Member) States implement such methods as a screening of all applicants for international protection, training of caseworkers, and provision of information to facilitate self-reporting.
  • Many (Member) States logically place greater emphasis on detection in international protection procedures than in forced return procedures, in order to detect victims at the earliest stage possible. However, recognising that the authorities competent to enforce return may also come into contact with victims, most (Member) States also provide these actors with relevant training on identification and detection.   
  • All (Member) States offer the possibility to refer identified victims onto service providers for support and some offer a choice of protection possibilities. Where a victim of trafficking is seeking international protection but is also identified as a victim of trafficking in human beings, there is no obligation on the victim to switch to procedures for a residence permit as a victim of trafficking in human beings. Indeed, some (Member) States have reported that victims prefer to stay in international protection procedures rather than switch to procedures for victims of trafficking in human beings. This suggests that there is a need for the holistic protection possibilities being gradually introduced into (Member) States.