Shelter for groups of victims of THB for labour exploitation (the Netherlands)

The NGO CoMensha is responsible for arranging shelter for victims of trafficking in human beings (THB) in the Netherlands. It has drafted a protocol on providing shelter for large groups of victims.

In 2010, the Inspectorate SZW found a group of 40 victims, consisting of men, women and children. It turned out that the regular system of shelters was not equipped to house victims together as a group. Instead, the victims were taken to a hotel. This was only a temporary solution, since it did not sufficiently meet the needs of the victims and was expensive. CoMensha was therefore asked to draw up a protocol.

The protocol assigns different responsibilities to the appropriate parties:

  • The labour inspectorate will inform CoMensha about their planned inspections ahead of time - 10 days before the inspection will be carried out at the latest.
  • CoMensha will arrange housing within the last five days before the inspection takes place.
  • CoMensha will arrange transport to take the victims to the shelter, with either the Transport and Support Service of the Custodial Institutions Agency or with the police.
  • The labour inspectorate will inform the immigration service so that victims can be granted a reflection period and their social security benefits will be made available.
  • Social workers within the shelter or other aid workers will draw up an inventory of victims’ needs and organise support accordingly.
  • Victims who choose not to make use of shelter housing, receive information and aid concerning the judicial procedure, their finances, referrals to health services when needed and so on.

Every consultant who operates the helpline of CoMensha is able to organise and coordinate the assistance for a group of victims. For every country of origin, different partner organisations are involved and different activities may be necessary to organise the assistance. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport covers the expenses that are made.

Partners involved in the cooperation

  • Comensha: Project leader, coordinates the assistance and care in cooperation with the shelters and the Labour Inspectorate.
  • Labour inspectorate (Inspectorate SZW): Organises the raids and informs Comensha about them in advance.
  • National Police: Offers reflection period to possible victims.
  • Immigration and Naturalisation Service: Provides reflection period to possible victims when they have accepted the offer of the police.
  • Public Prosecutor: Authorises the raids.
  • Municipality and mayor: Responsible for the provision of security by the police, both during the raid and for the shelter where the victims are housed.
  • NGO FairWork: Often present during raids with cultural mediators; provides support, for example to victims who choose not to go to the shelter but instead want to find a new job.

What makes this practice successful?

Because the division of tasks has been discussed and written down beforehand, every organisation knows what its role is on the day. The cooperation between different disciplines means that attention can be paid to both providing support to the victims and investigating the crime. During the raid, the Inspectorate SZW can focus on the investigation, since they know that shelter for the victims has been arranged by CoMensha.