Evaluation of Convention Against Human Trafficking reveals prosecution rates remain unacceptably low

by zoejardiniere

05.10.2012 The Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) published their second annual general report on Thursday 4 October. The report provides an overview of implementation of the Council of Europe Convention Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (entry into force 2008) in 13 countries.

Although the overall conclusions of the study pointed to a positive attitude on the part of states to ensuring that their obligations under the convention were implemented, various key areas of concern were highlighted. Among these was the need for improved training for the purpose of identification of victims of trafficking. This is specifically pertinent as regards the need for better application of the non-punishment clause (Article 26), in order to ensure that victims will not be prosecuted for any instances of forced criminality.

There is also a need to address all forms of trafficking, as there is a general misconception that it is a crime only affecting women in the context of sexual exploitation. Although this remains a large and important aspect of the issue, states must provide tailored support for male victims as well as children and be more aware of different areas where traffickers operate such as forced and exploitative labour or forced begging.

Regarding the protection of identified victims, the report notes that this should never be dependent on a victim’s willingness to cooperate with criminal proceedings.  Furthermore despite their need for assistance, victims ought to be allowed to maintain their autonomy as much as possible in order to allow them to rehabilitate effectively.  Linked to this is the urgent need for improved implementation of provisions of compensation to victims who can often otherwise be left destitute after their escape from traffickers.

Finally, rates of conviction of traffickers are extremely low, especially as compared to estimated numbers of existing victims.