Assistance to be given to victims of human trafficking irrespective of the progress of criminal proceedings
The status and the right to services of victims of human trafficking will improve as the help provided through the Assistance System will no longer depend on the progress of the criminal proceedings related to human trafficking. Primarily, assistance will be based on an assessment of the victim’s individual situation. The President of the Republic approved the related legislative amendments on 29 December and they will enter into force on 1 January.
The amendments will promote both the status of the victim and the interests of society as a whole: by improving the detection of human trafficking and referral of victims to assistance, they will support the enforcement of criminal liability. The amendments will also clarify legislation.
Identification of victims to be simplified
Provisions on the identification of a victim of human trafficking will be simplified so that identification will only mean the admittance of the victim to the Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking, which is of key importance in terms of the realisation of the victim’s rights. This will clarify the provisions on identification and make their legal effects more predictable. The preconditions for admittance to the Assistance System will not change, and the threshold for admitting victims to the System will continue to be low.
The continuation of assistance provided through the Assistance System will primarily be based on an assessment of the victim’s individual situation, not on decisions made in criminal proceedings. In other words, the victim will have the right to receive assistance regardless of the initiation, continuation and outcome of the criminal proceedings insofar as the victim is considered to need assistance.
The tasks of the Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking will include serving as the national expert authority in matters related to human trafficking and the efforts to combat it. The Assistance System, which is based at Joutseno Reception Centre, is already an important source of expertise, in addition to providing practical assistance.
Wellbeing services counties to provide more effective assistance
In addition to being admitted into the Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking, human trafficking victims will receive healthcare and social welfare assistance from the wellbeing services counties.
In future, the Social Welfare Act will refer to other forms of exploitation as grounds for identifying support needs that require the provision of social services. Such other forms of exploitation will include trafficking in human beings and related offences. This amendment emphasises the obligation of the wellbeing services counties to provide social services for victims of human trafficking that meet the service needs of such victims.
Berit Kiuru, Chief Specialist, Ministry of the Interior, tel. +358 295 488 283, [email protected]