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EMN Ireland Conference: Challenges and Responses to Identifying Victims of Trafficking

Date Published: 29-11-2013

This EMN Ireland / ESRI Conference will be held on Friday, 29 November 2013, from 09:30 to 16:00, at the Alexander Hotel, Fenian Street, Dublin 2.

In 2010, EU Member States reported over 9,500 formally identified and 'presumed' victims of trafficking, the majority of whom were trafficked for sexual exploitation or forced labour. Other forms of trafficking included: for the removal of organs, criminal activities or the selling of children. An increase can be seen in the number of identified victims from a sub-set of Member States between 2008-2010 and may indicate: a rise in the phenomenon of trafficking in human beings in the EU; better identification procedures; wider involvement of actors in the identification process; or changes in policy priorities and legislation.

At the Conference attention will be given to the question of how victims of trafficking are located and identified at national, European and international levels, particularly within the international protection and forced return procedures. Findings from the Council of Europe first GRETA (Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings) report on Ireland will be discussed. Contributors from Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Netherlands will look at national responses to challenges from policy, criminal justice and NGO perspectives.

Conference Programme:

Refreshments / Registration

Welcome / Introduction

Alan Barrett, EMN Ireland  / Economic and Social Research Institute


Session I: Identification within the International Protection and Forced Return Procedures

Chair:  Hilkka Becker, Immigrant Council of Ireland and Member of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal

The Identification of Victims of Trafficking in the Asylum System: Fadela Novak Irons, UNHCR Bureau for Europe 

The Role and Activities of EASO with Regard to Trafficking in Human Beings: Maria Kovalakova, European Asylum Support Office 

Q&A Discussion


Chair:  David Gilbride, Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, Department of Justice and Equality

The Role of Border Guards in the Identification of Victims of Trafficking: Duco van Heel, Frontex

Detecting, Identifying and Referring Victims: Good Practices and Lessons to be Learnt from Member States: Laura Robson, EMN Service Provider, ICF GHK-COWI 

Q&A Discussion


Session II: Member State Responses to Challenges Surrounding Identification

Chair:  Frances Ruane, Economic and Social Research Institute

Ireland, GRETA and Evolving Human Rights Standards on Human Trafficking: Siobhán Mullally, University College Cork and Member of GRETA, Council of Europe 

Five Years on: Challenges and Opportunities in the Identification of Victims of Trafficking for Forced Labour: Gráinne O’Toole, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland 

Q&A Discussion


Chair:  Corona Joyce, EMN Ireland / Economic and Social Research Institute

Progress Through Partnership: the Response in Northern Ireland: Julie Wilson, Department of Justice, Northern Ireland / Detective Superintendent Philip Marshall, Police Service of Northern Ireland 

Identification of Potential Victims: The Role of Immigration Services. A Dutch Perspective: Richard Sondeijker, IND Group on Human Trafficking and Smuggling, Directorate of Strategy and Advice, The Netherlands 

Q&A Discussion


Please find below short embargoed summaries of six presentations at the Conference. Presenters may be contacted via EMN Ireland. Conference papers and presentation slides will be available to download from our website on the day of the event. For further information on the Conference please visit our website.

Members of the Media are invited to attend the Conference.

Contact: Corona Joyce - by email to emn.ireland@esri.ie or tel: +353 1 8632060 (Office); Web: www.emn.ie.

The Identification of Victims of Trafficking in the Asylum System 

Fadela Novak Irons, UNHCR Bureau for Europe

The UNHCR presentation will deal with the EU acquis and victims of trafficking, looking at the intersection of the EU asylum acquis with the victim protection regime. The presentation will also highlight the various profiles of victims of trafficking in the EU asylum systems, and the strategies that need to be put in place to identify victims (and persons at risk) of trafficking who are in need of international protection. In this context, the assessment of the credibility of the claims by victims of trafficking becomes a key step. UNHCR has just published “Beyond Proof – Credibility Assessment in EU Asylum Systems”, the findings of which are extremely relevant to the identification of victims of trafficking.

The Role of Border Guards in the Identification of Victims of Trafficking

Duco Van Heel, Frontex

The EU Member States have a responsibility to act to prevent trafficking, to investigate and prosecute traffickers and to assist and protect victims of trafficking. Border guards have, as first line officers, a very important role in the early identification of this crime, when traffickers decide to cross borders. Border guards should understand how, in the performance of their duties, to identify and adequately deal with victims and potential victims of trafficking in human beings. Although border guards cannot take the final decision if somebody is a victim, to recognise the initial signs of trafficking and the start of the identification process are of utmost importance in preventing further harm to the victim. To support the Member States in their efforts to fight trafficking in human beings Frontex has developed some products, like a training manual for border guards, a handbook on risk profiles and a handbook with best practices to fight organized crime groups at air borders.

Detecting, Identifying and Referring Victims: Good practices and lessons to be learnt from Member States

Laura Robson, ICF GHK-COWI

Drawing on existing literature and the preliminary findings of EMN National Reports, this session describes some of the mechanisms and systems used in Member States to detect and identify victims amongst applicants for international protection and to refer them onto the most appropriate procedures. In order to assess these systems within the framework of the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012–2016 and the provisions of Directive 2011/36/EU, the presentation focuses on the extent to which there are systems in place for detection and identification, the extent to which such systems are coordinated between different relevant actors, and the extent to which the systems in place are victim-centred and have a human-rights approach. 

Five Years on: Challenges and Opportunities in the Identification of Victims of Trafficking for Forced Labour

Gráinne O'Toole, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland

The presentation reflects on progress made in the identification of victims of trafficking for forced labour 5 years on - since the introduction of the law to criminalise human trafficking. It sets out the challenges and opportunities that remain in moving toward a victim centred approach.

Progress Through Partnership: the Response in Northern Ireland:

Julie Wilson, Department of Justice, Northern Ireland/Detective Superintendent Philip Marshall, Police Service of Northern Ireland

Julie Wilson, Head of Human Trafficking Team in the Northern Ireland Department of Justice and Detective Superintendent Philip Marshall of the Police Service of Northern Ireland will look respectively at the strategic and operational partnerships which have been established in Northern Ireland to tackle human trafficking. Their presentations will consider why a joined-up approach is necessary; and draw out some of the key benefits this approach is already delivering across Northern Ireland, particularly in respect of informing policy making; training frontline professionals and raising public awareness of the signs and presence of human trafficking in Northern Ireland.

Identification of Potential Victims: The Role of Immigration Services. A Dutch Perspective

Richard Sondeijker, IND Group on Human Trafficking and Smuggling, Directorate of Strategy and Advice, The Netherlands

This year in the Netherlands we marked the abolition of slavery in the Dutch colonies in the Western Hemisphere 150 years ago. On 1 July 1863, some fifty thousand people were released from slavery in Suriname and the Antilles. Human trafficking is a hidden crime. Timely identification of victims is important. After all, we have to know who they are in order to protect them. That takes training. Frequent and compulsory training for those who may come into contact with perpetrators and victims in a professional context.

The Netherlands Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) is an important organisation in the fight against human trafficking . It is the Dutch admissions organisation and responsible for handling all applications of individuals who want to reside in the Netherlands or who wish to gain Dutch citizenship. The IND is therefore the gateway to the Netherlands Traffickers try to illegally circumvent migration procedures. IND officials are in a position to detect signs of human trafficking at a very early stage during visa, migration and asylum procedures at diplomatic posts abroad and IND centres and offices in the Netherlands.

Earlier this year the IND finalised a report called 'Human Trafficking: the Mission and Vision of the IND', which describes the role and responsibilities of the IND in fighting human trafficking. It further contains a set of recommendations to improve the contribution of the IND in combating this crime and protect its victims.

An important recommendation of the Mission and Vision report is to organise and deliver intensive trainings to IND staff who may come into contact with victims or potential victims of human trafficking in the context of their daily practice. Other recommendations of the report include

  1.  the organisation of awareness raising campaigns (today's Conference is actually an example of such a campaign),
  2. improved human trafficking (organisational) structures within the IND,
  3. a closer cooperation between the IND and (international) governmental and non-governmental organisations active in the fight against human trafficking, and
  4. the establishment of an IND Referral Mechanism.


About the European Migration Network (EMN):

The aim of the European Migration Network is to provide up-to-date, objective, reliable and comparable information on the migration and asylum situation at European and national level (across all Member States) with a view to supporting policymaking and informing the general public.

EMN Ireland is co-funded by the European Union (Directorate-General for Home Affairs) and the Department of Justice and Equality. More about EMN

The Economic and Social Research Institute, Whitaker Square, Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin. Telephone: +353 1 8632000; Fax +353 1 8632100; email: admin@esri.ie; web site: www.esri.ie; If you would like to receive our monthly eNewsletter with news of ESRI activities and publications, please subscribe on our website.

The ESRI is an independent research institute. The Institute does not take policy positions and the views expressed in ESRI publications are those of the authors. All ESRI reports are peer-reviewed prior to publication.

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