New Dutch law undermines fight against people trafficking

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Corinne Dettmeijer, the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence Against Children in the Netherlands has fiercely criticised a bill which she says undermines the fight against people traffickers.

The new bill would restrict the use of the current three-month ‘waiting period’ in which illegal aliens who are victims of people trafficking can file a report with the authorities. During that period, the victims are allowed to stay in the Netherlands and receive some financial support. Once a report has been filed, victims of people trafficking are automatically issued a temporary residence permit for the duration of the investigation.

The 'real' victims
Immigration Minister Gerd Leers hopes that the stricter rules will separate the real victims from those who are only interested in extending their stay in the Netherlands. However, Ms Dettmeijer, the government’s most senior advisor on people trafficking, said that scaling down the level of protection afforded to victims of people trafficking also imposed limits on the possibilities of prosecuting the traffickers. She said the proposal is also potentially at odds with the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.

The three-month period was originally introduced to allow victims of people trafficking and forced prostitution some time to calm down and give them a sense of security, so they can make a well-founded decision on whether they should file a report against their exploiter. After filing a report, a victim may face deportation if the information they provided did not offer sufficient leads to justify further

Normal homes
The National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings also slammed the Senate for delaying the adoption of a bill which would introduce the compulsory registration of all prostitutes. The bill has already been adopted by the lower house of parliament, but several senators have voiced objections regarding the potential violation of privacy of prostitutes working from home. However, Ms Dettmeijer argues that people traffickers are increasingly using normal homes instead of brothels. She fears that unless the bill is adopted they will be able to stay below the radar.

After decades of turning a blind eye, the Netherlands officially scrapped the ban on prostitution in 2000. The general expectation was that legalisation would bring increased supervision and put an end to abuse such as forced prostitution. However, the opposite has proved to be true. Large numbers of women are reportedly being brought into the country under false pretences and forced to work as prostitutes. In addition, there has been an increase in the number of ‘lover boys’- young men who prey on vulnerable young girls with a view to putting them to work as prostitutes. They often blackmail their victims with pornographic images they took of them.