Victims of human trafficking have the right to seek legal redress and compensation for the violation of their rights, a United Nations expert said today, voicing concern that those trafficked were often treated as “instruments” of criminal investigation, rather than people with rights.
“In many States, trafficked persons do not receive remedies in a holistic manner as a matter of right, but are only provided with ad hoc measures which are predominantly aimed at facilitating criminal investigation,” said Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children.
She criticised such measures as temporary residence permits, which are granted on the condition that the victims cooperate with law enforcement authorities.
“Trafficked persons are rarely known to have received compensation, as they are often not provided with the information, legal and other assistance and residence status necessary to access it,” said Ms. Ezeilo when she presented her report on the right to effective remedy for trafficked person to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“At worst, many trafficked persons are wrongly identified as irregular migrants, detained and deported before they have an opportunity to even consider seeking remedies,” she added.
In her report, Ms. Ezeilo recommends that States “ensure that adequate procedures are in place to enable quick and accurate identification of trafficked persons” to prevent any misidentification of trafficked persons as irregular migrants, which often leads to detention and deportation, effectively precluding a chance to seek compensation.
“States should ensure that trafficked persons are equipped with access to information, free legal aid and other necessary assistance such as interpretation services, and regular residence status during the duration of any legal proceedings,” Ms. Ezeilo recommended.
She also advised States to provide trafficked persons with temporary or permanent residence permits “where a safe return to the country of origin is not guaranteed or a return would not otherwise be in the best interests of the trafficked person for reasons related to his or her personal circumstances, such as the loss of citizenship or cultural and social identity in the country of origin.”