TRACKS ProjectIdentification of TRafficked Asylum seeKers’ Special needs
About the TRACKS project
TRACKS- identification of TRafficked Asylum seeKers’ Special needs is a transnational project that offers to analyze the asylum-trafficking in human beings (THB) nexus through the prism of special needs of trafficked asylum seekers and to equip national asylum authorities and civil society organizations to tackle crosscutting issues (i.e. protection, housing, rehabilitation, psychosocial support as well as security). Indeed, international protection of these asylum seekers might be challenged by their very specific vulnerability. Asylum seekers identified as victims of THB need to benefit from specific social and judicial support and reception conditions, as well as from a procedure that should be adapted to their individual specific situation. These needs have to be addressed to allow them to benefit from an appropriated international protection by EU member States. Very few victims of THB applying for asylum are granted refugee status or subsidiary protection as they have enormous difficulties to express their individual story because they are most of the time under influence, are not always aware of their rights in relation to their specific situation and went through traumatic experiences. Moreover, the asylum application can be used by criminal networks exploiting victims to make sure they legally stay on the territory. The situation of this specific vulnerable group requires a very specific answer that will result from a complementary accompaniment from a range of actors (i.e. regarding social and legal support, health, security issues, etc.).
In more general terms, fight against THB as well as protection of victims, are top priorities of the European Union. Both regulatory tools, for instance the Directive 2011/36/EU of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and political plans for action, in particular the strategy towards the eradication of THB (2012-2016), have been set up. The European Commission Migration and Home affairs DG is also highly concerned by this issue which has been embedded in EU external migration policy for a couple of years, in particular since 2009 Action oriented paper on strengthening the EU external dimension against trafficking in human beings. Fighting human trafficking has been defined as part of the first priority addressed by the European Agenda on Migration released on 13 May 2015. The European Commission will “complete the initiatives foreseen in the current strategy against Trafficking in Human Beings and look at how work can be further improved in 2016”. TRACKS could be a supportive project in relation to this orientation, improving identification of the special needs of victims of trafficking all along their asylum procedure. At national level, EU member States have appointed national rapporteur responsible for monitoring the implementation of anti-trafficking policy at the national level (in line with Directive 2011/36/EU mentioned hereof) and some have gone further and set up a National referral mechanism that defines the role of different actors and provides clear procedures, guidance and operational indicators to identify and assist victims of THB, such as the United Kingdom, or set up an anti-trafficking monitoring Committee.
Building up a project on identification of specific needs of victims of THB related to the asylum procedures and the reception conditions would fall within the existing work that has been done on THB and asylum and bring additional elements that have not been addressed so far. Identification of victims is still an issue but identification of their needs is a complementary aspect that has to be tackled as well in order to address the crosscutting issues related to asylum and THB in a comprehensive and complementary manner. Indeed, asylum practitioners met during the feasibility study of this project all stressed that it is frustrating and inefficient to identify a victim of THB that they will not be able to orientate and accompany in an appropriate manner as there is no dedicated mechanism, path or process to persons who are both asylum seekers and victims of THB. Such mechanisms would allow civil society organizations and national authorities and institutions to better articulate asylum and THB to fully meet these persons’ needs for an appropriate protection. The other way around, identification of specific needs of victims of THB implies that these victims have already been identified. Another key aspect that emerged during the preliminary phase to prepare this project is that victims of THB have major difficulties to explain their situation and to verbalise their true individual story in the process of an asylum claim. Pressures they are often victim of from traffickers, insecurity and violence they have been enduring and sometimes still are victims of, trauma, as well as their lack of awareness on their rights and their status of victim explain to a large extent this difficulty.
The British Red Cross Society (BRCS) is the largest provider of non-contracted asylum support in the UK which covers destitution, orientation and one to one psychosocial casework. They are currently supporting trafficked people emotionally at rest centres after anti-trafficking raids and through referring them to the right agencies. They are increasing their capacity to respond to trafficking and are attending regional and national Anti-Trafficking Networks, and co-chairing the European Red Cross Red Crescent Anti-Trafficking Network. The Red Cross has developed strong relationships with key stakeholders and as such this application has been fully endorsed by the newly appointed Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland, UNHCR and the Human Trafficking Foundation. This will put them in a strong position to influence change.
Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) will contribute its wide network of contacts among refugee supporting organisations and anti-trafficking NGOs (CCME is co-chair of the NGO platform on asylum and migration and member of the NGO group of anti trafficking NGOs). CCME will also use its network with EU institutions for dissemination of results. As an organization specialized on International Protection, CEAR participates mainly on asylum procedures aspects related to THB but collaborates hand in hand with specific accommodation facilities for THB victims in Spain. CEAR is also member of the Spanish Network Against Human Trafficking, which gathers national and international civil society organizations in demanding a comprehensive law against trafficking to be developed from a human rights perspective requesting that Spain fulfills its responsibility to protect the victims, including their right to asylum.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) has been active in the area of human trafficking since 2007. This work stems from their priority mission to support migrant groups at risk. Over the years ICI has developed a significant expertise in supporting migrant women and children who experience domestic violence, stateless migrants, unaccompanied minors, migrant women who are victims of trafficking and those vulnerable in the sex industry. ICI support to trafficked victims primarily consists of providing comprehensive legal aid, which often includes applications for international protection alongside support in the criminal investigations and any other legal matters arising in the context of the client’s situation – status allowing access to services, temporary and long-term protections, threats to family members, compensation, non-prosecution and others. The organization is presently leading a transnational project on Legal provision of victims of trafficking with EC funding (Early Legal intervention for victims of trafficking). Of particular concern for ICI is the situation with vulnerable asylum seeking victims of trafficking. The organization has been awarded grant by UN.GIFT (Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking) to study their situation, and the resulting report “Asylum Seeking Victims of Trafficking: Legal and Practical Challenges” (available at http://www.immigrantcouncil.ie/index.php/research-publications/publications/523-asylum-seeking-victims-of-human-trafficking-in-ireland ) has been widely studies and referred to. Presently, ICI represents a number of cases pertaining to vulnerable trafficked women seeking international protection which involves liaison with the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, the police authorities investigating human trafficking and the national coordination office at the Dept of Justice.
The Italian Red Cross (ItRC), thanks to its experience all along the migratory path, from the assistance at disembarkment to the social inclusion activities in asylum seekers’ reception centres and outside, may intercept several different needs expressed by migrant people, in particular by people victim of trafficking. By the way, because of its activity for the Praesidium project, which includes the monitoring of the asylum seekers’ reception centres in Italy, the ItRC has the possibility to share the results of the project among a wide net of stakeholders.
KISA – The provision of information, support and mediation services through its Migrant and Refugee Centre is a fundamental and integral part of KISA mission, vision and daily action for safeguarding, promoting and advocating for the rights of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, including victims of trafficking. In addition, KISA has over the years initiated and participated in many actions in the areas of trafficking and asylum, including awareness-raising and campaigns, social intervention in the form of reports to international and European bodies and agencies, position papers and recommendations to the competent authorities, as well as projects, including the following: “Bicommunal Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings”, co-funded by the US Embassy in Nicosia; “Integrated approach for Prevention of Labour Exploitation in Origin and Destination Countries”, co- funded by the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme 2009 of the EC, “The Europeanisation of national asylum and alien law in Cyprus, Malta, Italy and Spain: Detentions and detention centres for foreigners vs the Return Directive”, co-funded by EACEA under the “Europe for Citizens” Programme, “HUMA NETWORK- Health for Undocumented Migrants and Asylum seekers’, and “Exploring new forms of asylum procedures”, co-funded by the European Refugee Fund (Community Actions 2009) of the EC.