Prosecution services and protection of victims

The impact of trafficking in human beings (THB) for labour exploitation on the victim may be high and long-lasting. Therefore, prosecution services need to protect the victim during the judicial procedure. The victim also has a right to financial compensation. Regarding the protection of and assistance to a victim, prosecution services could:

Try to prevent secondary victimisation

Secondary victimisation of the victim during investigation, prosecution or trial should be avoided. Four things are named in Article 12 paragraph 4 of EU Directive 2011/36/EU. These things should be avoided as far as possible without prejudice to the rights of the defence and in accordance with national law:

  1. unnecessary repetition of interviews
  2. visual contact between victims and defendants including during the giving of evidence such as interviews and cross-examination
  3. the giving of evidence in open court; and
  4. unnecessary questioning concerning the victim’s private life.

Protect child victims

In order to protect child victims during investigation, prosecution or trial, without prejudice to the rights of the defence, prosecutors need to make sure that:

  • interviews with the child victim take place without delay and, where necessary, in locations designed or adapted for that purpose
  • interviews with the child victim are carried out, where necessary, by professionals trained for that purpose, preferably the same persons for all interviews
  • the number of interviews is kept as low as possible
  • the child victim may be accompanied by a representative or an adult of the child’s choice
  • interviews with a child victim or child witness may be video recorded, including to be used as evidence in criminal court proceedings
  • the court hearing takes place without the presence of the public and/or the child victim is heard in the courtroom without being present, for example through communication technology.

This is stated in Article 15 paragraphs 3-5 of EU Directive 2011/36/EU.

Take the testimony of the victim anonymously

When the testimony is taken anonymously, the victim might be more willing to cooperate. Otherwise, they might fear repercussions from the trafficker to themselves or their family. It depends on the legislation of the member state if this is possible. (See the ‘4th General Report on GRETA’s activities’.)

Claim (financial) compensation for the victim

It may be practical to claim compensation for the victim during the criminal procedure: the evidence that is needed to prove what the victim is owed will probably be part of the prosecution case anyway. In some countries, representatives of the victim or NGOs may be able to support the claim in court.

In Spain, prosecutors are obliged to ask for compensation for the victims and to see that victims’ rights are respected. A report by a forensic psychologist regarding the victim’s evolution is always brought to trial to support the compensation claim. Representatives of NGOs are also summoned to reinforce the evidence.

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More general information on the protection of victims.