The practice of placing victims of trafficking in “unsuitable” direct provision accommodation should be discontinued, a project examining legal interventions for victims of trafficking has found.
The research, carried out by the Dublin-based Immigrant Council of Ireland and agencies in five other European countries, found that while the enactment of dedicated trafficking legislation has resulted in major advancements in addressing trafficking “critical flaws” still exist.
The report, entitled Upholding Rights! Early Legal Intervention for Victims of Trafficking, co-funded by the European Union's Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme, drew together researchers and projects from Ireland, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Finland and Croatia.
One of its recommendations is that minimum standards should be implemented for victims of trafficking to ensure the accommodation they are placed in is safe and poses no risks to further exploitation, particularly in the case of women who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation.
In this context the report says the use of “unsuitable direct provision accommodation” should be discontinued.
Chief executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland Denise Charlton said direct provision was not an appreciated place for trafficking victims.
“There is common agreement that direct provision it is totally inappropriate place for trafficking victims as the necessary supports simply aren’t in place.
“The needs of victims of trafficking are very complex: they are very vulnerable to further abuse and their traffickers can find them quite easily . . . there isn’t the level of protection in direct provision that, for example, a refuge could provide.”
Ms Charlton called on the the Government to provide appropriate alternative accommodation to affected individuals.
The research also found that more needs to be done to ensure that all suspected and detected victims of trafficking are afforded adequate protection and assistance.
The report concluded that, while state legal aid is available in all six countries, “numerous gaps” remained for trafficking victims in their access to early legal advice and legal representation.
“There are no formal routes, protocols or procedures in place to ensure that access to early legal intervention is always provided,” the authors concluded.
The research also recommended increased resources for the policing of the sex trade to help in the early identification of trafficking victims.