Summary of recommendations regarding the Proposal for a Council Framework Decision on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, submitted by Human Rights Watch and Anti-Slavery International
The introduction should emphasize that trafficking in persons is a human rights abuse and that, in responding to this problem, member states should prioritize the protection of the human rights of trafficked persons, taking the steps necessary to prevent abuses and provide remedies where abuses occur.
Violence against women and children in their countries of origin should be included as a root cause in addition to the "lack of education and professional opportunities" in the introduction to the Framework Decision.
The Commission is to be commended for its recognition that trafficking can be within as well as across international borders.
The definition of trafficking should be limited to situations in which coercion or deceit are used in the recruitment, transportation, transfer, or harboring or receipt of a person for the purpose of placing that person into slavery, forced labor, debt bondage, slavery-like practices, or servitude. In recognition of women and men' s ability to make voluntary decisions about migration and employment, the definition of "trafficking for sexual exploitation" should be limited to those situations involving coercion. Slavery-like practices should be understood to include forced marriage.
The Framework Decision should distinguish between child and adult victims of trafficking. In the case of children, the definition of "trafficking for sexual exploitation" should not be limited to situations involving coercion.
Article 4: Penalties and Aggravating Circumstances
The Framework Decision should give particular attention to complicity by state officials, law enforcement officials, and customs agents. These complicit and corrupt officials make it difficult for trafficked persons to turn to the authorities for assistance.
The Framework Decision should require States to make assets confiscated from traffickers (in accordance with due process protections) available to settle financial claims of trafficking victims.
Article 8: Victims
The Framework Decision should require states to take measures to protect trafficking victims from being prosecuted or otherwise penalized for offenses directly related to their being trafficked, including lack of a valid visa, solicitation, prostitution, or the use of false travel or identification documents. Victims should also have access to legal remedies for the abuses they have suffered.
The Framework Decision should require states to meet the urgent needs of trafficked persons, including appropriate housing, economic assistance, confidential medical and psychological care, and other social services, as needed. Child victims of trafficking should have access to education. Trafficked persons should not be detained or imprisoned.
The Framework Decision should explicitly provide that the right to seek asylum and the fundamental principle of non-refoulement should in all cases be upheld.
The Framework Decision should require member states to refrain from the immediate expulsion of trafficked persons. Where victims of trafficking decide to act as witnesses in criminal prosecutions of traffickers or initiate civil actions to seek redress for the abuses they have suffered they should be allowed to remain in the country for the duration of the cases, including all appeals.
The Framework Decision should note that permanent resettlement of trafficked persons may be appropriate in some cases, and states should provide trafficked persons with the right to apply for permanent residence status, giving appropriate consideration to humanitarian and compassionate factors in determining these cases.
The Framework Decision should require member states, in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers, to protect victims or witnesses who cooperate in these proceedings, with measures to ensure their safety, physical and psychological well- being, dignity, privacy, and right to timely repatriation to their country of origin.
The Framework Decision should mandate that victims of trafficking, whether or not they are serving as witnesses, should have access to the same human rights protections.
The Framework Decision should require states to provide trafficked persons with information about their legal rights and access to legal assistance and translation services so they may seek compensation and restitution for abuses they have suffered.
The Framework Decision should require states, in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers, to take measures to ensure that the alleged "character" or current or previous occupation of the trafficked person is not admissible save in the most exceptional circumstances, where the judge is satisfied that the evidence is highly relevant and credible and is essential for a fair trial.
The Framework Decision should require member states to keep information about the identity and location of trafficking victims confidential and to refrain from putting any indication regarding a person's history as a trafficking victim in her/his travel documents.
The Framework Decision should require countries of origin, transit, and destination to work together -and in cooperation with persons with expertise in working with trafficking victims -to facilitate the safe and humane repatriation of trafficking victims.
The Framework Decision should explicitly provide that no one should be involuntarily returned to a country where there are substantial grounds for believing that s/he would become ~ victim of a gross human rights abuse, such as torture, enforced disappearance, summary or arbitrary execution, or prolonged arbitrary detention.
The Framework Decision should include a separate definition of trafficking in children which recognises that children do not have the same capacity to make decisions about their migration and employment as adults. It should also require states to take all necessary steps to locate the family members of a child victim of trafficking and make a determination about their placement in accordance with the best interests of the child. Where prompt unification of the child with their family is not possible, states should ensure that special assistance, including legal counsel, is available to child victims of trafficking. Under no circumstances should they be placed in a punitive institution, such as juvenile detention centers or remand homes for children.
The Framework Decision lacks a specific section on prevention: The Introduction to the Decision, which calls for social and economic initiatives to prevent trafficking in persons, should make explicit reference to the need to eliminate discriminatory policies and practices that limit women and girls' access to education and/or employment. The Framework Decision should require states to undertake information campaigns that educate women and girls about their rights at home and abroad, empowering them to make informed choices about their employment and to defend their rights as workers. Prevention efforts should not be carried out at the expense of other human rights, including the right to freedom from discrimination and the right to freedom of movement and travel.
The Framework Decision should have a non-discrimination clause which states that all anti-trafficking efforts should be carried out in a non-discriminatory fashion without distinction of any kind, such as discrimination based on nationality, sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age, sexual orientation, property, or birth or other status.
The Framework Decision should institutionalize the European Union's efforts to combat trafficking in persons. This could include the appointment of a Trafficking Coordinator or E.U. Special Envoy on Trafficking to oversee implementation of the Framework Decision. The Framework Decision should require annual public reporting on progress in combating trafficking. Member States should submit information on implementation of the Framework Decision to the EU Special Envoy who will report to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. As a logical extension of the European Union Human Rights Charter, the Framework Decision should mandate a Human Rights Forum to discuss internal human rights issues, with a particular focus on trafficking.
All member states should also ratify and encourage non-member states to ratify and implement the relevant international human rights instruments, including the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.