The Right Sight

Starting this year we have initiated recht in zicht to improve the support for undocumented persons who have been victims of human trafficking. A significant number of women (and one man) who come to the Wereldhuis have been exploited in the sex industry as well as other fields, such as the hospitality and domestic work sector. There they were forced to worked under unacceptable conditions, work overtime and receive little or no payment. Being undocumented thereby rendered them even more vulnerable.

Victims of human trafficking can stay in the Netherlands temporarily under the condition that they report the perpetrator to the police (the so-called B9 Regulation). Under this regulation, victims who do not want to return to their country of origin have the right to apply for a continuation of their stay on humanitarian grounds. However, to be considered for a prolonged stay in the Netherlands, the burden of proof rests with the victim, not the Dutch authorities.

The Wereldhuis has set up the project ‘Recht in Zicht’ to support victims of human trafficking during this difficult procedure. Volunteers with a professional background in law are teamed up with clients to support her/him in a variety of ways: answer questions about the procedure itself, explain and translate letters from the court, accompany client to institutional visits (i.e. the embassy or IND), create a ‘veiligheidsdossier’, and apply for support via the Violent Offences Compensation Fund (Schadefonds Geweldmisdrijven).

 The project provides long-term and low-threshold support and guidance. The Wereldhuis therefore asks volunteers to be involved  for a minimum of six months to create mutual trust between volunteer and client. The one-on-one support thereby enables the volunteer to know every detail of the client’s dossier, which in turn helps to keep a good overview about the procedure and important deadlines or dates. Furthermore, it allows the volunteer to come up with new ideas and approaches regarding the procedure. Furthermore, the volunteer has time to accompany the client, for instance to the embassy to apply for a passport or the IND to request a (temporary) residence permit. In addition, the volunteer can help compile the client’s dossier, for instance by requesting prolonged residency or monetary compensation for being a victim of a violent offence.

Volunteers offer moral support for the clients, but also more knowledge about the legal procedure and therefore more control over their situation. By being fully aware and knowledgeable about the procedure, clients can also play a more active role, for instance when compiling their personal dossier. This in turn can render them more self-assured and less powerless.

Dorenda Fokker
d.fokker@diaconie.org