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.



Framework and background for reflection periods

In the past two decades, human trafficking has been firmly established as an important issue on the international arena. This form of exploitation is not new, but more and more countries experienced that the existing system was poorly suited to face the challenge. Police in several countries reported connections between the networks behind human trafficking and other forms of crime, such as trafficking in drugs and weapons. This lent weight to a strong focus on criminal justice measures in order to target trafficking.


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