Despite increasing awareness that trafficking and the exploitation of human beings under forced labour or slavery-like conditions constitute severe human rights violations, states tend to focus on the prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators, while the protection of the rights of trafficked persons lags behind. While considerable steps have been made in the provision of social, psychological and medical assistance, access to legal assistance and representation is still a poor relation. This constitutes a serious barrier for trafficked persons to access justice.
Victim lawyers have a crucial role in protecting the rights and interests of trafficked persons and the prevention of secondary victimisation. They are also key as watchdogs in balancing the rights of the victim and the suspect(s) and to ensure that trafficked persons are treated in a respectful and sensitive manner.
This paper below analyses the extent to which victims of trafficking have access to specialized legal assistance and representation in Romania, the existing legal framework, and the challenges and opportunities to improve the situation. It closes with a number of concrete recommendations.
It is part of a project implemented by APADOR-CH in cooperation with the Dutch Helsinki Committee (NHC) during September 2016-March 2017, building on a previous 3-year project carried out by the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, Adpare and Pro Refugiu to train lawyers and enhance victims’ access to legal counselling, aid and representation during criminal and other legal proceedings