In the case of Spain, the Office of Asylum and Refuge (OAR) and National Police and its branch of Intelligence Centre against Organized Crime and Alleged Forgery (CITCO) tend to consider that international protection and the protection of victims of trafficking fall under two very different procedures, the Asylum law on one hand and the Foreign Law on another hand. The reality is that both are compatible procedures.
In addition, for those victims of trafficking who apply for asylum they are recognized as a category of applicants with special needs under EU Refugee Law (Art. 21 of the Reception Conditions Directive) and therefore they should benefit from specific procedural arrangements and specific reception conditions.
However, the specific regulation for implementing these dispositions in Spain is not ready yet and despite victims of trafficking also being recognized as a group with special needs among asylum seekers (Art. 46 of the Law 12/2009 for Asylum and Refuge in Spain), there is nothing in place to accompany them in practice. Consequently, victims of trafficking are generally referred to the Framework Protocol for Protection of Victims of Human Trafficking which procedures guarantee protection of victims identified by the police under the framework of Foreign Law.
It is urgent that our country develops the regulation for the implementation of the Reception Conditions and Procedures Directives. However, this won’t be enough as the OAR, the Spanish Institution that decides about the international protection recognition, almost never grants the refugee status to a victim of trafficking: 4 women victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation and 2 babies have been granted refugee status but they also needed to give other reasons than trafficking to be recognized as refugees.
A solution to this would be that the Spanish authorities better assess the risks faced by victims of trafficking in case they have to return to their country of origin because they are or have been victims of trafficking.
For us, it is very important to have a solid story to support the international protection file. In that respect, victims have to be in a secured and trusted environment and be provided with sufficient time to reveal their true story.
In addition, coordination between all relevant actors is fundamental to ensure comprehensive support of the victim so we can defend the right to international protection for victims of trafficking who fear persecutions and protection gaps in the case of return to their country of origin.