European Action for Compensation for Trafficked Persons
Results of COMP.ACT project
From December 2009 to December 2012, the COMP.ACT project worked to bring about systematic and practical changes to ensure that trafficked persons receive compensation for their suffering and unpaid labour. Partners in 13 countries conducted research on the existing possibilities and the identification of obstacles in systems and procedures that prevent those trafficked from accessing compensation. The partners formed national coalitions on compensation, and presented recommendations to ensure access to justice for trafficked persons. Several partners have engaged with lawyers to support their clients in compensation claims and with law firms to inform the legal community on the right to compensation. COMP.ACT partners have supported over 50 trafficked persons in claiming compensation, with the highest amount granted being € 54 000.
Internationally, the COMP.ACT awareness-raising campaign contributed to the inclusion of compensation in the anti-trafficking agenda of intergovernmental organisations. For example, compensation is now covered by the EU Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting the victims EU/2011/36 and the in The EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012 – 2016.
The COMP.ACT report presents the Findings and Results of the European Action for Compensation for Trafficked Persons.
In the first year COMP.ACT developed a Research Template for a country-level study on compensation. The template covers data collection on access to compensation for trafficked persons and an analysis of barriers in accessing it at the national level. It assists in formulating recommendations to strengthen the victims’ ability to assert their right to compensation.
The obstacles for trafficked persons to claim and receive compensation include lack of access to information, assistance and legal aid on the part of the victim, as well as lack of capacities, knowledge and experience in seeking compensation for trafficked persons on the part of the judiciary, lawyers, service providers, nongovernmental organisations and trade unions. Moreover, fear and intimidation, language barriers and insecurity about their immigration status may act as barrier. Even when compensation orders are made against traffickers, in practice it appears to be extremely difficult to enforce such orders and actually receive compensation. Where State compensation funds exist, they are often limited and may exclude groups on the basis of nationality, residence status, or types of crimes that the victim suffered.
Using the outcomes of the national researches and partners’ experience, the COMP.ACT coalition has developed further practical tools for professionals to facilitate trafficked persons’ claims to compensation.
Poster on seeking compensation, that in a simple way highlights the key points that need to be covered when consulting a client, and available legal avenues and other channels to seek compensation. The posters were originally designed for Germany by KOK e.V. and the German Institute for Human Rights, and afterwards adapted by numerous other partners in other countries. They are for practitioners that work with or encounter trafficked persons in their work, such as police, shelter staff, trade union officers, counselling centres and lawyers.
The Poster on seeking compensation has been developed for Germany (available in English, German and Russian), Austria, Bulgaria, Belarus, Czech Republic (available in Czech, English and Russian), Italy, Macedonia and Ukraine.
Flyers informing victims of human trafficking and exploitation about their rights to receive compensation and where they can turn for help. The flyers are developed for Austria (available in Bulgarian, English, German, Hungarian and Romanian) and Germany (available in Bulgarian, English, French, German, Hungarian, Polish and Romanian).
Guidance on representing trafficked persons in compensation claims with information on the rights and needs of trafficked persons, the ways of claiming compensation for both material and non-material damages, a detailed overview of the international legislation and a simple 5-Step Model for claiming Compensation for trafficked persons. The guidance is accessible for lawyers, counselling centres and service providers.
The different tools developed by COMP.ACT, together with the final report presenting the finding and results, are available in one comprehensive toolkit. A hard copy of the COMP.ACT Toolkit on Compensation for Trafficked Persons can be ordered at: firstname.lastname@example.org
To ensure continued awareness raising amongst a broader public, a Compensation Promotion Video was produced with the cooperation of international organisations.
Results and Recommendations
The COMP.ACT project has made a start in building multi-faceted and a holistic strategy to achieve improvements that would lead to more trafficked persons receiving compensation. By forming or strengthening national and international coalitions, undertaking research, trainings, developing tools for practitioners and sharing good practices, COMP.ACT has contributed to raising awareness about the importance of the issue of compensation for trafficked persons and exposing the structural and practical obstacles to access justice. A ‘broad coalition of the willing’ is established on both national and international level.
In order to make compensation a reality for all trafficked persons, it is now necessary to expand this coalition to all stakeholders working in the anti-trafficking field and to anchor compensation into all policies, measures and legislation.
COMP.ACT has formulated a range of recommendations for further action, addressing stakeholders at the different levels to transpose the right to compensation op paper, to the actual receiving compensation by trafficking persons in practice.
Recommendations for International Organisations:
- Engage Europol, Cepol and Eurojust to build the capacity of law enforcement and judiciary on victims’ rights and compensation and link them to financial investigations and asset recovery.
- Promote the use of confiscation legislation across Europe and explore ways of using seized assets to compensate victims.
Recommendations for States:
- Build the capacity of practitioners to support clients to claim compensation.
- Include compensation into existing trainings for law enforcement and judiciary.
- Secure funding for social and legal aid to trafficked persons.
- Set up state compensation funds and make them accessible for victims of all forms of trafficking.
- Consider guaranteeing compensation payment to the victim by the state in cases when the perpetrator fails to pay within a given period.
Recommendations for practitioners (service providers, law enforcement, judiciary)
- Apply and test all the possible avenues of redress for trafficked persons.
- Apply portable justice to assist returned/deported trafficked persons to be able to claim and receive compensation.
- Develop strategic litigation techniques and increase knowledge on ways of redress.
- Disseminate successful compensation claims and good practices.