The last decade has witnessed an increase in legal and policy debate on the rights of trafficked persons, but should such rights extend to the right to residence in the host country? If so, under what circumstances? This IOM multi-country research report examines this very issue.
There has been significant attention given to the issue of “reflection periods” and “temporary residence permits” as a means to ensure the protection of trafficked persons. This has been demonstrated through the incorporation of relevant provisions in international, regional and national instruments. The report analyses the legal framework on residence options for trafficked persons and how these legal norms are being translated into practice.
Based on a comparative legal and practice-based assessment of the application of the right to residence in four selected countries (Austria, Belgium, Italy, United States of America), the research reveals that trafficking victims are rarely seen as the holder of rights. Instead, they are often seen as “instruments” in investigations or prosecution because the right to residence is linked to law enforcement cooperation; and where such rights exist, they are poorly implemented or subject to strict eligibility criteria. Yet even though only one of the national laws focus on the rehabilitation of the trafficked person, in all four countries the practice by law enforcement and other actors sometimes go further than the provisions in the law. The report concludes by offering a number of good practices for the anti-trafficking community.