GENEVA (27 June 2019) – States around the world have an obligation to ensure social inclusion of victims of trafficking in the long-term, says a UN rights expert.

In a report to the UN Human Rights Council, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, urges better social inclusion of victims and survivors. “The notion of social inclusion best conveys the idea of a process, of which recovery is the first step, the ultimate goal being the full and permanent restoration of all rights that had been violated before and during the trafficking cycle, including the right to education and job opportunities,” the expert said.

“Thus, protection of trafficked persons should not be limited to the delivery of immediate and short-term assistance but it requires States to take robust and effective measures that allow trafficked persons to live an independent life in the long run. For this purpose, States have an obligation to ensure their access to effective remedies, including compensation.”

The report also provides a series of challenges, as well as promising practices on social inclusion of trafficked persons, especially from civil society organisations, based on a transformative approach, not reiterating traditional gender-roles, and offering survivors sustainable options.

“Combatting stigma associated with trafficking has been identified as one of the major challenges across all continents. Victims of trafficking are often blamed, including by family members, for association with prostitution, or failed labour migration or unfulfilled expectations,” Giammarinaro said. Other challenges identified include restrictive migration policies, poor social services, discriminatory practices, gender-stereotypes, lack of regular residence status and lack of compensation.

“I find extremely concerning that many countries have not implemented the principle of non-punishment of trafficked persons for their involvement in unlawful activities as a direct consequence of being trafficked,” Giammarinaro said. In these cases, often concerning children, criminal records must be cleared, as they cause lifelong restricted access to basic services, even long after survivors have escaped their traffickers.

“I encourage States, civil society and international organisations to dedicate appropriate funding to the design and implementation of innovative models of social inclusion, which should be gender and child-sensitive, designed and based on survivors’ needs and aspirations.”