Referral of and assistance for victims of human trafficking in Europe

The Ministry of Interior of Hungary, the Ministry of Security and Justice of The Netherlands and Payoke vzw of Belgium submitted an application „Referral of and assistance for victims of human trafficking in Europe” (hereinafter RAVOT-EUR) for Action Grants under the Programme “Prevention of and Fight against Crime” 2012 ISEC General Call for Proposals of the European Commission.

The European Commission delivered a favourable opinion on the application, so the project could be officially launched on 1 February 2014, and by 31 January 2016 RAVOT-EUR may provide comprehensive solutions for the challenges posed by the hideous crime of trafficking in human beings. The main aim of the project is to provide the victims of sexual or labour exploitation with assistance in their return and social reintegration, and also to set up an online platform and devise an information manual that can be further used for professional and academic purposes. Another objective is to enhance cooperation among experts involved in the fight against human trafficking. The total budget of the project is 346 069 EUR, 311 462 EUR of which is provided by the European Union Specific Programme “Prevention of and Fight against Crime”.

The main aim of the project is to develop a transnational referral mechanism among Hungary, Belgium and the Netherlands. This would contribute to the assistance, safe return and referral of human trafficking victims and facilitate transnational networking and trust building among professionals. The two partner countries of the RAVOT-EUR – which was initiated and is led by Hungary – are Belgium and the Netherlands, the countries where Hungarian victims of human trafficking are found most frequently, so the cooperation has been established on a solid basis. It is important to recognize that trafficking in human beings is such a serious and hideous crime which severely violates human rights, and the international community can only fight against it through wide international cooperation. The RAVOT-EUR facilitates the development of a better understanding and increased trust among law enforcement authorities, NGOs, and all actors in the field of referring and assisting victims of human trafficking.

The expected outcome of the project is that the needs and problems of the victims, as well as the capacity and network of victim assistance services and NGO’s will become clear. In the framework of the project an information manual and a website will be developed, which will provide help in victim identification, assistance and the cooperation of experts. With the RAVOT-EUR, a new transnational referral mechanism will be set up in which the work of the organizations and parties involved, and the reintegration of the victims will be supported in a sustainable way. At the same time the project will use legal and institutional frameworks already existing at a national level and intends to satisfy the victims’ personal needs. A well-structured and unified transnational referral mechanism will enhance the safe return of the victims and contribute to the effective work of the organizations assisting them.

During the project three professional workshops were held in the three partner countries, involving international experts in order to discuss best practices and the different needs, circumstances and capabilities. In addition to the workshops, experts took part in study visits during which they had the opportunity to learn about the work of the Hungarian, Dutch and Belgian authorities, the quality of the services provided, and the operation of the transnational referral mechanisms.

We hope that the information manual and the website of the project will facilitate and significantly enhance the sustainability of the RAVOT-EUR, while bolstering transparency and providing experts and victims with an appropriate forum, a more simple way of getting in touch, and access to information.

Swiss-Hungarian Transnational Cooperation on the Referral of Victims of Trafficking project

Following the spirit of the RAVOT-EUR project the Hungarian Government included the task of mapping and improving Swiss-Hungarian referral mechanism in the National Strategy Against Trafficking in Human Beings (2013-2016) and it was also included in the national work programme of the Internal Security Fund. Following the favorable decision of the Responsible Authority, the project was launched on 1 April 2017 with the total budget of HUF 14,100,930. The project was implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Budapest in partnership with the Hungarian Ministry of Interior, the Hungarian Police, the Federal Office of Police of Switzerland (fedpol) and IOM Bern.

Switzerland is one of the most important countries of destination for Hungarian victims of trafficking. According to EUROSTAT between 2010 and 2012, Switzerland had the fourth highest number of registered Hungarian victims. According to statistics provided by the Hungarian Police, Switzerland is among the top six destination countries for Hungarian victims of trafficking. Based on the Hungarian Ministry of Interior’s answers to the Questionnaire for the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2016 (UNODC), in 2014 the highest number of identified Hungarian victims of trafficking repatriated from abroad were from Switzerland. The 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) highlights that Switzerland, next to the Netherlands, is a top destination country for Hungarian victims of sex trafficking.

During the project implementation, the existing national coordination and referral mechanisms have been mapped and a comprehensive database of services and service providers has been compiled. Identification, referral, assistance and protection practices for victims of trafficking have been outlined in partnership with governmental, non-governmental and international organizations in both the country of origin, Hungary and the country of destination, Switzerland. The aim of the project was to facilitate mutual understanding, cooperation and information exchange among professionals working in various fields related to the fight against trafficking and to establish the cornerstones of the Swiss-Hungarian transnational referral mechanism.

This aim was achieved through study visits in Hungary and in Switzerland organized for Swiss and Hungarian counter-trafficking experts delegated by the most relevant organizations and authorities involved in counter-trafficking activities. Based on the results of the information exchange between the experts, the existing database of the RAVOT-EUR website has been extended.