Back to home page

Human Rights Women’s Rights Europe D66 European Parliament

Victims of trafficking to get residence permit for testifying

   Thu 10/10/2002

Mrs Van der Laan's opinion grants victims of trafficking and illegal immigration a short term residence permit when they testify against their traffickers. Van der Laan: "The intention is to seek ways to combat trafficking and fight illegal immigration. This is an important step in getting traffickers behind bars". The opinion by Dutch liberal MEP Lousewies van der Laan voted on Wednesday 2 October in the European Parliaments’ Committee on Womens’ rights and equal opportunities was adopted unanimously.

According to the Van der Laan proposal, a victim of trafficking is granted a so-called reflection period of one month to take the decision to cooperate with the authorities. In exceptional circumstances this period can be extended with 60 days. During this period the victim receives aid according to their needs, such as housing, medical and psychological care and, if necessary, social assistance. This should help victims to regain the material and psychological autonomy needed to take the decision to cooperate. Often, victims of trafficking are forced into prostitution and to keep them dependent on their abusers they are mentally and materially stripped. When the presence of a victim can help the investigation or the prosecution of suspects, and if the victim is willing and able to testify against its traffickers, he or she can be granted a short term residence permit for a period of 6 months. This permit is renewable and gives victims access to medical care and to to the labour market, education and vocational training. When a judicial decision has been reached terminating the investigation or prosecution, the permit will not be renewable. From that point onwards, national aliens’ legislation applies. Van der Laan: "For its purpose, namely putting traffickers behind bars, this is a good proposal. However, I do hope the Commission will soon come up with a proposal that specifically deals with the protection of victims of trafficking as well."

The matter, including the input from the Van der Laan opinion, will now be futher discussed in the European Parliaments’ Committee on Citizen's Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs. If all goes according to schedule, the complete proposal will be voted on in the plenary assembly of the EP in December.