The Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) has urged Belgium to improve trafficking victims’ access to legal aid and to guarantee their effective access to compensation. These are among the main proposals for action included in GRETA’s latest greta-evaluation-report-on-belgium/1680a8940b”report evaluating Belgium’s implementation of the Council of Europe’s anti-trafficking convention.
The report notes that Belgium is primarily a country of destination for victims of trafficking, but it is also a country of origin and transit. 475 victims received support from specialised centres between 2017 and 2020. The majority of victims were men trafficked for economic exploitation, whilst the second most common type of exploitation, mainly affecting women, was sexual exploitation. GRETA welcomes a number of positive developments since its last evaluation report, including the adoption of legislation in May 2019 stating that victims of trafficking should not be punished for crimes they were compelled to commit. The number of investigations and prosecutions has also increased.
Nevertheless, a number of challenges remain. The report stresses that presumed victims should be better informed about their rights, for example, and the eligibility criteria for obtaining legal aid should be reviewed and simplified. Whilst it is possible for victims to claim compensation, a limited number of victims have successfully done so. In addition to facilitating access to legal aid, says GRETA, the criteria for accessing the Financial Aid Fund for Victims of Intentional Acts of Violence should be reviewed.
Human trafficking experts urge Belgium to improve access to legal aid and compensation for victims
GRETA and Belgium