Enhancing the Protection of and Assistance to Victims of Trafficking through Temporary Residence Permits

Key Objectives

The overall objective of this regional project was to enhance the protection of and assistance to victims of trafficking through temporary residence permits (TRPs).

Background

"The possibility to regulate my status while in Serbia helped me a lot. First of all, I started ‘existing' as I was no longer an illegal person, and no one could ‘play' with my status and documents. At that time I was afraid to return home, I feared the traffickers but also had started a life here. The temporary residence helped me sort out my choices and helped me reach an informed decision. Counselors from the NGO Atina helped me realize what are my rights and my options. After the reflection period was over, I was able to register as a student and continue with my education process.

Now I am in Serbia as any other foreigner with a temporary residence status. I do not think of going back home to Ukraine, at least for a while. I need some more time and like the life here for the time being."

- - A 24-year-old Ukrainian who was trafficked to Serbia in 2005 and received a temporary residence permit

Legalizing the status of foreign trafficking victims through temporary residence permits is an essential precondition to assist them and has become a motivation for them to come forward and seek protection. Without TRPs in place, the uncertainty of victims' status and potential for immediate deportation adds to their anxiety, having already been traumatized by their experience.

Therefore, a real need was to build the capacity of the government bodies and NGOs to appropriately introduce laws on TRPs and, most importantly, carry out implement and apply practical measures to make it visible and accessible to trafficking victims.

Challenges

In addition, while some countries have existing laws for the issuance of TRPs, many challenges still remain. These include the following:

  • TRP regulations are not sufficiently applied. From 2004 to 2007, only 43 TRPs were issued in the project countries.
  • TRPs are not issued automatically to the victims of trafficking, but only to the ones who opt to testify.
  • Some countries do not issue TRPs to the victims who opt to repatriate, leaving them in a limbo until they can return home.
An IOM and King Baudouin Foundation conference in June 2006. Trainings, seminars and related activities help encourage government and NGO staff to address the challenges involving the issuance of temporary residence permits. © IOM 2006

Through trainings, seminars and related activities, the project encourages both government and NGO staff to address these challenges and actively support the issuance of TRPs for trafficking victims and to enforce their overall protection.

"With its systematic approach, the TRP project has proven to have a strong impact on the victim protection system as a whole while fostering real partnerships between governments, national NGOs and victims themselves."
--Fabrice de Kerchove, Project Manager, King Baudouin Foundation

Solution

  • Foster proper implementation of TRP schemes applied through seminars for strengthening the capacity of NGOs and government agencies.
  • Address problems identified during the internal evaluation of the last component of the project "Establishment of Temporary Residence Permit Mechanisms for Victims of Trafficking and Witnesses in the Balkans" – the TRP Watchdog Mechanism1 – through specialized trainings.
  • Produce a handbook on TRPs (from both the legislation and assistance point of view) and monitoring basics (relying on materials and activities from the TRP Watchdog Mechanism project) in the field of issuing TRPs, legislation and corresponding practices and politics in the area of trafficking in human beings.
  • Build and enhance the management capacities of NGOs to create relevant policies through the production of a comprehensive, practical handbook on the TRP schemes in the European Union and Southeast Europe.
  • Support partner NGOs in monitoring activities through small grants and supervision.
  • Support NGOs in policy-making and lobbying based on actual monitoring results.
An IOM and King Baudouin Foundation conference in June 2006. Trainings, seminars and related activities help encourage government and NGO staff to address the challenges involving the issuance of temporary residence permits. © IOM 2006

Beneficiaries

  • Victims of trafficking
  • Police officers in project countries (Ministry of Interior/Security members)
  • Social workers in project countries (Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare)
  • NGOs in project countries

Principal Activities

IOM

  • Implemented three TRP capacity building seminars:
    • Seminar in Brussels on EU Directive/TRP Legislation
    • Seminar in Southeast Europe on Victim Assistance
    • Training in Monitoring in Southeast Europe
  • Produced and distributed materials on a TRP scheme and monitoring procedures
  • Trained NGOs and government officials in implementing and monitoring a TRP scheme
  • Created and distributed a TRP Handbook to the Government and NGO practitioners in the region
  • Commenced successful TRP monitoring by the NGO partners in Southeast Europe through a regional Call for Proposals and selection of five NGO partners.

King Baudouin Foundation

  • Launched a series of activities in 2003 to bolster the efforts of the organizations and agencies that assist the victims of human trafficking in Southeast Europe.
  • Supported TRP legislation changes in Southeast Europe, offering to national experts opportunities to be familiarized with the most progressive EU models in this field, at the same time offering them tools to incorporate lessons learnt into their own legislation.
  • Established an informal network of NGOs in Southeast Europe providing protection and assistance to victims of trafficking.
  • Fostered links between the EU and the Southeast Europe Trafficking in Human Beings policy makers.
  • Supported eight NGOs active in reintegration/rehabilitation in five countries of Southeast Europe.

Follow Up

"All the project countries deserve appreciation as they introduced very progressive legislation in the field of temporary residence permits to victims of trafficking. Yet, special attention should be given to the practical implementation of the TRP legislation and the overall integration of victims of trafficking."
--Gregoire Goodstein, Chief of Mission, IOM Belgrade

Despite outstanding results, practical implementation remains uneven in the countries of the Balkans. Moreover, there is a discrepancy between the number of assisted foreigners and the issued TRPs. This means that not all the victims receive such protection and some are deprived of receiving proper information. Therefore, additional efforts are needed to effectively carry out TRP laws, to strengthen the coordination among stakeholders and to make the TRP visible and accessible to victims of trafficking. It is hoped that countries in the region will continue to use TRPs to help trafficking victims and that governments set aside funds for assistance and reintegration programmes.

1One of the main activities of the project was the introduction of the NGO Watchdog mechanisms in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia. In each of the countries, the NGOs were tasked with assessing the situation in the field of temporary residence protection and collecting general data in regard to trafficking in persons.

A seminar sponsored by IOM and King Baudouin Foundation in Belgrade in September 2007. This is part of the project to enhance the protection of and assistance to victims of trafficking by the issuance of temporary residence permits. © IOM 2007
IOM together with the King Baudouin Foundation held a seminar in Sarajevo in September 2007 as part of the project on enhancing the protection of and assistance to victims of trafficking through temporary residence permits. © IOM 2007