La Strada Documentation Center

Compensation for victims of human trafficking: inconsistencies, impediments and improvements

Document number
Compensation for victims of human trafficking: inconsistencies, impediments and improvements
Jeltsje Cusveller - La Strada International, University of Amsterdam
View/save PDF version of this document
Document type(s)
Guidelines/Recommendations, Research/Study/Analysis,
human trafficking, exploitation, human rights, compensation, damages

Regardless of the internationally acknowledgement right to compensation, the number of trafficked persons in Europe that have actually received any reimbursement is very low. The present study aims to contribute to a rise in the frequency compensation is received by trafficked persons by analysing the obstacles to compensation. It has done so by conducting a literature review (covering the years 2010-2012), interviews and a case file analysis (covering 2013 and 2014), answering the question which obstacles exist that prevent victims of human trafficking from receiving compensation, both at the European level and the national level of the Netherlands.

Three routes to compensation are currently relevant, each of which has unique obstacles related to them; civil court, criminal court and a state fund. At the European level, many impediments are related to legislation or law enforcement. Obstacles related to legislation include limitations on the amount that can be claimed, the type of damages that can be claimed and the victims that can claim compensation. Obstacles related to law enforcement include a lack identification of victims, a lack of prosecutions and convictions and prejudice towards victims. Additionally, it was found to be difficult to assess the extent of the damage for which a victim should be compensated. Furthermore, lack of information and the unavailability of free legal aid are obstacles to compensation. Lastly, an important issue at the international level is that offenders that have been sentenced to pay compensation often have no traceable assets, resulting in non-payment.