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“Improving access to justice for trafficked persons”: Publication of the Report of the First Network Meeting for European ‘anti-trafficking lawyers’

21 March 2017
Taken on November 22nd 2016 at the first anti-trafficking lawyers network meeting in Strasbourg.

On November 22-23, 2016, The Council of Europe Anti-Trafficking Division and the Netherlands Helsinki Committee organised a meeting in Strasbourg for lawyers and NGOs from all over Europe providing legal assistance to victims of trafficking in human beings. About 50 legal professionals from 26 states parties to the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings engaged in active discussion on their challenges and future approach. They also exchanged experiences in the provision of legal assistance to trafficked persons in criminal, civil and administrative proceedings.

The Netherlands Helsinki Committee is proud to launch the Report “Improving access to justice for trafficked persons”. The Report was written by human rights expert Ms. Marjan Wijers from the Netherlands. It presents the main conclusions from the meeting in Strasbourg, which are linked to specific points identified by the participants based on presentations, panel discussions, outcomes of the working groups and plenary discussions. It details the current state of affairs and the main challenges in the protection of the rights of trafficked persons, with special attention to the right to compensation and the application of the non-punishment principle. It also examines the role of lawyers in protecting the rights of trafficked persons, the barriers trafficked persons face in accessing legal assistance and representation, and the need for strategic litigation. Additionally, it examines the expected benefits of a European network of lawyers for trafficked persons.

The Report was presented at a Regional Round Table meeting on March 16th, 2017 in Budapest which was organized by the Netherlands Helsinki Committee in cooperation with local NGO partner Association for Hungarian Sex Workers (SZEXE). This Round Table, which was financially supported by the Netherlands Embassy in Budapest, brought together about 30 legal professionals from Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, as well as NGOs providing services to trafficked persons, representatives of the National Commission on Trafficking in Human Beings, the Bureau for Legal Aid, Bar Associations and the former President of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, Mr Nicolas Le Coz. The aim of this meeting is to discuss common problems regarding access to legal assistance and representation for trafficked persons, exchange the best practices in Europe, and discuss possibilities for improvement.

Click here to read the full report.