Trends in human trafficking

The Netherlands is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children from the Netherlands, Eastern Europe Africa, and South and East Asia subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour in agriculture, horticulture, catering, food processing, cleaning, and forced criminal activity. Vulnerable populations include Dutch girls enticed by young male traffickers, unaccompanied children seeking asylum, women with dependent residency status obtained through fraudulent or forced marriages, domestic workers of foreign diplomats, and women and men recruited in Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Trends and both victim and perpetrator profiles equal those mentioned earlier (Belgium) as both victims and perpetrators tend to make use of so-called carousels which are trans-boundary and often involve Belgium and the Netherlands. Cooperation is therefore sought after by both the Belgian and Dutch governments and on occasion the Hungarian government also plays an important role. This cooperation involves setting up Joint Investigation Teams (JIT), in which the police and the prosecutions office work closely together and share information with their foreign counterparts to prevent exploitation.

The institutional background

While the Government of the Netherlands deals with the legal implementation, other relevant institutions also work on the topic of THB. In 1997 recommendation 1325 called for a European wide network of so-called National Rapporteurs on Human Trafficking.

In 2000 the Netherlands was the first country to create a National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings (BNRM) and this role was given to Anna Korvinus. In 2006 Corinne Dettmeijer-Vermeulen replaced Anna Korvinus and in doing so became the second National Rapporteur. In 2009 Dutch interpretation of human trafficking and work of the national rapporteur’s office was expanded to include crimes concerning child pornography.  In 2012 sexual abuse against children was added to the portfolio of the National Rapporteur. The rapporteur’s office conducts research on the topic of human trafficking and collects data used for the periodic reports on the nature and extent of human trafficking in the Netherlands.

The Coordination Centre Human Trafficking (CoMensha) originates from the Foundation against trafficking in women which was established in 1987. This foundation was formed in 1982 and was inspired by a lack of knowledge on the topic of the trafficking of women and of ways to prevent it. Nowadays, CoMensha is a second-line institution reporting on victimization and characteristics but also coordinating aid, care and shelter. CoMensha is funded by the Ministry of Security and Justice. In 1995 CoMensha launched the La Strada network to establish programmes to prevent the trafficking of women from the country of origin.

These programmes were founded based on three pillars, namely:

  • Prevention and education;
  • Lobby and information (gathering and sharing);
  • Shelter and guidance.

The first countries in which these programmes were carried out were Poland and the Czech Republic. Nowadays La Strada is an independent European network with its headquarters in Amsterdam and has eight members: Poland, the Czech Republic, Belarus, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Moldavia, Macedonia and the Netherlands.

Alongside the BNRM and CoMensha, local care coordinators play a key role as first-line institutions.

These institutions are spread across various provinces and comprise:

  • Three COSM institutions (HVO-Querido, PMW, Jade);
  • SHOP;Moviera;
  • Fier Fryslan;
  • MJD;
  • Municipality of Weert (Province of Limburg);
  • Veilig Thuis Brabant North-East.
Hungarian victims in the Netherlands

Hungarian victims require a specific approach as they do not easily step forward without a good reason, such as extreme abuse, oppression or feelings of injustice. At the same time, Hungarians are only a small group within Dutch society, so it is not easy to find native Hungarian volunteers or employees. Establishing contact with this specific target group is therefore difficult. Moreover, both languages bear no resemblance to one another, which makes communication difficult.

Another complicating factor is the fact that Hungarian victims frequently disappear from the system, presumably back to Hungary. This makes it difficult to keep track of the victims, the stage of their referral and to monitor their needs and general progress.

The care coordinator in The Hague, for instance, has a Hungarian-speaking liaison who is in contact with possible victims. As access is easier, she is frequently contacted by women with all kinds of questions varying from asking information on an abortion up to questions on regaining custody back in Hungary. However, even in this situation there is not enough knowledge to get a better picture of the possibility of transnational referral.