Immigration services and protection of victims
When it comes to protection of and assistance to victims of THB for labour exploitation, immigration services could:
Provide victims with a reflection period
EU Directive 2004/81 grants victims of trafficking who are third-country nationals a ‘reflection period’. This period allows victims to make a well-informed decision on whether to cooperate with the authorities on the prosecution of the perpetrators. The length of the reflection period is left to the individual EU member states. However, the anti-trafficking Convention of the Council of Europe, which has been ratified by almost all EU member states, provides for a reflection period of at least 30 days. The reflection period is usually arranged for victims by the immigration service.
Provide victims with a temporary residence permit
Temporary residence permits are also usually arranged for victims by the immigration service. Read more about temporary residence permits.
Set up a special protection programme
Some victims may not be able to cooperate with the investigation or prosecution. For example, because of psychological or medical problems, or because of threats from the traffickers. Other victims may not have enough information for the police to start up an investigation, but may still be severely traumatised by the THB experience. For these cases, authorities could consider providing the victim with a residence permit on humanitarian ground. The temporary residence permit for victims is usually arranged by the immigration service.
In Austria, a victim of THB is entitled to a ‘special protection’ residence permit. The permit can be issued upon the initiative of the competent authority or the victim can apply for it. A ‘special protection’ residence permit can be issued if it is considered necessary for criminal prosecution of the offender, or for enabling the victim to make civil claims.
The victim does not need to cooperate with the authorities in order to receive the permit, except for providing their personal data. This one-year, renewable permit is also possible if the victim requires special protection for individual reasons.