Protecting the Rights of Victims of Trafficking Focus of Regional Conference in Brussels


France - “Protecting the Rights of Victims of Trafficking for the Safe and Sustainable Return and Reintegration Process” was the topic of a regional conference organized in Brussels by IOM’s Regional Office and IOM France on 21 January. 

The event attracted 55 experts from European Union (EU) institutions and agencies, including EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Myria Vassiliadou, EU member states and third countries, together with representatives from civil society and partner organizations. 

The conference focused on the protection of the victims of trafficking and their rights, in particular during the return and reintegration process, as part of two EU-funded projects implemented in the framework of the 2012-2016 EU Anti-Trafficking Strategy.

The two projects are: CARE (Coordinated Approach for the Reintegration of Victims of Trafficking Returning Voluntarily from Austria, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom); and TACT (Transnational Action – Safe and Sustainable Return of Victims of Trafficking Returning from France, Greece, Italy, Poland and Spain to Priority Countries: Albania, Morocco and Ukraine.

The meeting brought together countries of destination, transit and origin to take stock of the achievements and challenges in the area of victim protection, based on the experience of CARE and TACT.

Key topics discussed included the early identification of victims, trafficking in children and ways to further intensify the efforts to protect children victims of trafficking or those at risk of being exploited. The importance of putting in place functioning coordination mechanisms linking stakeholders involved in protection and assistance at national and transnational levels was also highlighted.

“Around half of EU member states have now formalized national referral mechanisms, to coordinate the actors involved in identification, protection and assistance, including health, justice, employment, law enforcement and border guards, consular and social services. It is in this spirit, and having a victim-centred approach, that the European Commission wants to ensure that we have a model for an EU transnational referral mechanism. I am assured that the IOM is the best placed organization to do that,” said EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Vassiliadou.

The IOM report Enhancing the Safety and Sustainability of the Return and Reintegration of VoTs, drafted in the framework of CARE and TACT projects, was launched during the conference, and presents the recommendations drawn from their implementation, as well as reflections on the way forward towards functioning national and transnational referral mechanisms for improved victim protection.

“We hope that the lessons learnt gathered in this report will be used by EU Member States for the implementation of future initiatives aiming at enhancing the safe return conditions of victims of trafficking, and are fully committed to support the European Commission in the development of an EU model transnational referral mechanism, which should increase the promptness of response between EU Member States and effectiveness of existing protection systems,” said Irina Todorova, a counter trafficking specialist at the IOM Europe Regional Office.

To download the report please go to:

For further information please contact Chloe Taillard Yevenes at IOM France, Tel. +33 1 40 44 06 84, Email: