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Asylum and THB

From 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2017, Forum réfugiés-Cosi is implementing the project TRACKS - identification of TRafficked Asylum seeKers’ Special needs – co-funded by the European Commission. TRACKS is coordinated by Forum réfugiés-Cosi and implemented by 6 partners in Belgium, Cyprus, Spain, Italy, Ireland, United-Kingdom and in association with a Swiss partner.

Trafficking in Human Beings

 

Trafficking in Human Beings (THB) is defined by international and European legislation, in particular the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crimes and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons (15 December 2000), the Council of Europe Convention against THB (3 May 2005) and the European Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims (5 April 2011). It is defined in the French national law by the Internal Security Law of 2003, revised by the Law of 5 August 2013. Despite the UK and Ireland not being party to this Regulation, the Council of Europe Convention against THB is applicable since 2008 to all countries where this project is implemented.

 

Trafficking in persons has three constituent elements: action (what is done) - means (how it is done) and exploitative purpose (why it is done):

 

Why is it important to implement such a project?

The project is based on a common observation from the partnership members that the asylum-THB nexus is raising growing concerns at EU, national and local levels, in particular in relation to identification of victims of trafficking in the asylum procedure, but much remains to be done to ensure appropriate protection to these persons.

 

Victims of THB have been included as a category of vulnerable persons in the revised Reception Directive of June 2013 that came into force on 21 July 2015. Ireland and the United Kingdom are not bounded to the latest but still need to have practices in line with EU human rights standards. However, in most countries, once victims of THB are identified in the asylum procedure there is no coordinated approach to their accompaniment and their specific needs are generally poorly addressed. Therefore, the main issue is to allow victims of trafficking to benefit from an appropriate protection taking into account their very specific vulnerability. Considering the scale of the phenomenon, few victims of THB applying for asylum are granted refugee status or subsidiary protection at first instance as they have enormous difficulties expressing their protection needs: they are often under influence and threatened in the country they seek asylum in, lack awareness on their rights both as asylum seekers and victims of THB and have been through traumatic experiences.

 

Activities

In order to improve support provided to victims of THB in the asylum process, both as regards to the procedure and reception conditions, several activities are being implemented:

 

The partnership

Forum réfugiés-Cosi is the project coordinator and responsible for the project implementation in France. The organisation is providing legal counselling, both at reception platforms and detention centres, as well as accommodation, health and psychosocial support to asylum seekers and provides refugees with support to integrate into French society. Forum réfugiés-Cosi has been confronted with adapting services to special needs of vulnerable asylum seekers, in particular as regards to victims of THB. In that respect, the organisation has established strong relationships at local and national level, with national and local authorities, the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Exiles (OFPRA) and NGOs, to accompany, orientate and support victims of THB applying for asylum. Forum réfugiés-Cosi is a member of the European civil society platform against THB.

 

The British Red Cross Society (BRCS) is the largest provider of non-contracted asylum support in the UK which covers destitution, orientation and one to one psychosocial casework. They are currently supporting trafficked people emotionally at rest centres after anti-trafficking raids and through referring them to the right agencies. They are increasing their capacity to respond to trafficking and are attending regional and national Anti-Trafficking Networks, and co-chairing the European Red Cross Red Crescent Anti-Trafficking Network. The Red Cross has developed strong relationships with key stakeholders and as such this application has been fully endorsed by the newly appointed Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland, UNHCR and the Human Trafficking Foundation. This will put them in a strong position to influence change.

 

Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) ecumenical organisation that serves the churches in their commitment to promote the vision of an inclusive community through advocating for an adequate policy for migrants, refugees and minority groups at European and national level. Since 2001, CCME has been involved in transnational projects and activities to better support and protect victims of THB. CCME is co-chair of the NGO platform on asylum and migration and member of the NGO group of anti trafficking NGOs.

 

As an organization specialized on international protection in Spain, CEAR participates on asylum procedures aspects related to THB and collaborates hand in hand with specific accommodation facilities for THB victims in Spain. CEAR is member of the Spanish Network Against Human Trafficking, which gathers national and international civil society organizations advocating for a comprehensive law against trafficking to be developed from a human rights perspective requesting that Spain fulfills its responsibility to protect the victims, including their right to asylum. 

 

The Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) has been active in the area of human trafficking since 2007. This work stems from their priority mission to support migrant groups at risk. ICI support to trafficked victims primarily consists of providing comprehensive legal aid, which often includes applications for international protection alongside support in the criminal investigations and any other legal matters arising in the context of the persons’ situation – status allowing access to services, temporary and long-term protections, threats to family members, compensation, non-prosecution and others. ICI is a member of the European Civil Society Platform against THB.

 

The Italian Red Cross (ItRC), thanks to its experience all along the migratory path, from the assistance at disembarkment to the social inclusion activities in asylum seekers’ reception centres and outside, may identify different needs expressed by migrant people, in particular by people victim of trafficking. ItRC had therefore developed expertise on trafficking and how to better protect and assist victims.

 

The provision of information, support and mediation services through its Migrant and Refugee Centre is a fundamental and integral part of KISA mission, vision and daily action for safeguarding, promoting and advocating for the rights of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, including victims of trafficking. In addition, KISA has over the years initiated and participated in many actions in the areas of trafficking and asylum.

 

The Swiss Refugee Council (OSAR) is implementing the TRACKS project in Switzerland, allowing for wider comparison of national situations and bringing additional expertise into the partnership. As an umbrella organisation of Swiss social welfare organisations, OSAR coordinates the work of legal aid practitioners and relief organisation representatives and advocates to the public and to authorities for a just and humane asylum policy. Ensuring the protection of vulnerable groups, including victims of THB, within the asylum procedure is one of OSARs main areas of activity.

 

TRACKS is implemented in association with UNHCR Europe office, Office français de protection des réfugiés et des apatrides (OFPRA), Amicale du Nid Rhône, the UK Institute for Migration Research and the Human Trafficking Foundation.

 

Latest news
Press Release – Ensuring better protection to asylum seekers victim of trafficking: EU project TRACKS has started !

 

For any question related to the project you can contact:
Barbara Joannon, in charge of the overall coordination of the TRACKS project : bjoannon@forumrefugies.org