The Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) has called on the Dutch authorities to take a number of further steps to tackle human trafficking and to ensure that trafficking victims have access to justice.
In its third report on the Netherlands, published today, GRETA notably urged the authorities to take specific measures to tackle trafficking for labour exploitation and to protect child victims of trafficking.
Today’s report highlights a number of positive developments since GRETA’s last evaluation of the Netherlands in 2018. Relevant national laws and policies have continued to develop, funding for specialised bodies has increased and most municipalities have adopted anti-trafficking policies.
However, GRETA also expresses concern about the decreasing number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions for human trafficking, in particular for labour exploitation, and the length of criminal proceedings in trafficking cases.
In the report, GRETA notably urges the Dutch authorities to intensify their efforts to prevent and combat human trafficking for labour exploitation, and to strengthen their efforts to investigate and prosecute such cases. This includes taking further steps to regulate recruitment and temporary work agencies.
More victims of trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation should also be able to obtain compensation from the perpetrators, according to GRETA.
Furthermore, many trafficking victims are afraid to cooperate with police due to the lack of specific protection for victims of trafficking from prosecution for offences they were forced to commit while being trafficked.
GRETA also urges the Dutch authorities to develop a National Referral Mechanism for child victims of trafficking, taking into account their special circumstances and needs, and to continue to reduce the risk of unaccompanied migrant children going missing from institutional care.
In addition, the authorities should pay increased attention to detecting victims of trafficking amongst asylum seekers and persons placed in immigration detention centres, according to the report.
Today’s report, which covers the period up until 30 June 2023, has been published together with the response of the Dutch authorities.
Facts and figures:
- The Netherlands continues to be primarily a country of destination for victims of human trafficking, but it also increasingly a country of origin
- There was a total of 4 732 presumed victims of human trafficking between 2018 and 2022, of whom approximately 60% were women and 10% were children
- Approximately half of the presumed victims were trafficked for sexual exploitation, 25% for labour exploitation, and 10% for forced criminality; a number of the presumed victims were subjected to multiple forms of exploitation
- Around 20% of the presumed victims were Dutch citizens; the top five countries of origin for foreign victims were Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary
- According to the authorities and specialised NGOs, the real scale of human trafficking in the Netherlands could be much higher than the above-mentioned figures suggest
The Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) is an independent body which monitors the way countries implement the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. All member states of the Council of Europe are bound by the Convention, as well as non-member states Belarus and Israel.