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3 questions to… Maria Dapena Vilarino, representative of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO)

How the THB question is approached in your work?

If we focus on the link between asylum procedures and identification of THB, we have to say that, first of all, they are two different channels, and their use varies considerably depending on the Member State taken into account. This is why EASO works towards the harmonization and convergence of the practices throughout the UE. We have to further explore potential links between the international protection, on a side, and the protection and special needs of victims of THB, on the other.

In terms of activities on the field, the contribution of EASO can be structured as follows:



Anyway, it is important to strengthen that EASO works and provides assistance only upon request of a Member State.


Does it include the nexus with asylum procedure and how?


As mentioned before, EASO works towards the harmonization of the practices in the EU Member States. In fact, not every country has the same procedures when it comes to the differentiation between victims of THB and beneficiaries of international protection. Furthermore, upon arrival, migrants are not offered enough information on their possibilities, and this lack can affect the entire process.


The main point is that victims of THB and potential beneficiaries of the international protection are actually two different categories. And even though some victims of THB may fulfil the criteria to receive the international protection, this is not always the case. In this regard, we have to try avoiding creating “fake refugees”. As said, not everyone has the right to obtain the international protection. Despite that, it is thoroughly important to try to offer the victims of THB a type of protection which is at the same level of the international protection and which implies the same rights.


Do you consider the TRACKS project/comparative study is valuable for your work? Explain how?


I have done my best to follow and attend each of the events of the TRACKS project, but it has not always been possible. Anyway, I am especially satisfied for the inclusion in the project of good practices in the interview process. In my opinion, the interviews already employ a victim-centred-approach, but maybe not enough. Furthermore, I am really interested to find out more about the toolbox (which will be discussed after the coffee break).


Regarding the necessity to focus more on the specific needs of the victims, EASO has developed the Training upon THB and International protection tool to further train the officers. In particular, the Trafficking of Human Beings module is composed of two levels:

  1. The first level has a more basic content, since its principal goal is to provide officials with the tools (indicators, signs to search for) to be able to identify a victim or potential victim of trafficking;
  2. The second level has a more specific and specialized content and it aims at identifying victims of trafficking who may also be beneficiaries of the international protection.

These levels will after converge and help the interviewer in the decision making process.


At this level it is important to remember that there are different factors which may change the status of a person and cannot be overlooked. In fact, a migrant may decide to leave his country of origin for different reasons and then, in the transit country, may become a victim of trafficking. This is why in the interview it is important to focus on the specific circumstances of each person. 


EASO Tool for identification of persons with special needs 

EASO Training Curriculm (May 2017)