Balancing protection and prosecution in anti-trafficking policies

A comparative analysis of reflection periods and related temporary residence permits for victims of trafficking in the Nordic countries, Belgium and Italy

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When victims of trafficking are identified in a country of destination, they are often in a situation marked by lack of clarity. In response to this, most European countries have a so-called reflection period for victims of trafficking, typically lasting from 30 days to six months, during which the victim cannot be sent out of the country, and where he or she can reflect upon the above issues and receive assistance. The intention of the reflection period is to help protect victims, but also to prosecute traffickers. How can these two – sometimes conflicting – goals best be met? This report discusses implications of the models in the Nordic countries, Belgium and Italy.




It is interesting to note the diversity in the models chosen for the reflection period for victims of trafficking in the seven countries in this study. This is not least the case when comparing the five Nordic countries, several of which have a relatively similar starting point in terms of their human trafficking situation. Two of the Nordic countries, Finland and Iceland, have, in line with the Italian model, specifically formulated the option to grant residence to victims based on their vulnerable situation and not solely on the grounds of cooperation with authorities. Sweden is more similar to Belgium; both countries have shorter reflection periods (30 and 45 days respectively) leading up to a decision on whether or not to cooperate with authorities. Denmark also has a 30 day reflection period. However, the aim is not prosecution, but prepared return of victims, which separates the country from the others included in this study. Norway has a long reflection period, which again is similar to the Italian model, but will only renew residence based on cooperation.


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