Focus on compensation in GRETA Compendium of Good Practices Report

GRETA (Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings) has released its Compendium of good practices in addressing trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labour exploitation. Recognising that human trafficking for the purposes of labour exploitation remains one of the main challenges facing Europe today, GRETA has collected and created a list of good practices.

The Report looks at measures related to compensation. The Convention establishes a right to compensation and requires Parties to take steps to guarantee the compensation of victims, for example through setting up a compensation fund or introducing measures or programmes for social assistance and social integration of victims that could be funded by assets of criminal origin.

Looking at the practices across Member States, the COE notes that there is a scarcity of available information on compensation awarded to victims of trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation. It looks at examples from many Member States including:

Austria: Victims of trafficking supported by LEFÖ-IBF are provided with psycho-social assistance in claiming unpaid wages through the Labour and Social Court;

Belarus: the NGO Gender Perspectives/La Strada Programme provides assistance to labour migrants who are not paid their (full) wages. The organisation’s lawyers help labour migrants prepare appeals to labour inspectorates and law enforcement agencies in Poland and the Russian Federation. In 2017-2019, about 200 labour migrants who faced irregularities applied to the organisation, of whom 179 to assert their rights agreed with the support of the organisation. As a result of this work, a criminal case was initiated in Poland on trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation.

Ireland: the NGO Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) supports victims in accessing labour courts for monies owed to them under the employment legislation, which is separate to achieving compensation for the crime of human trafficking. In 2014, three Filipina domestic workers were awarded €80,000 each by the Employment Appeals Tribunal on the basis of an unfair dismissal claim they brought against the United Arab Emirates Ambassador to Ireland and his wife.

The Netherlands: a victim of trafficking can claim compensation as part of the criminal proceedings or start civil proceedings to seek redress from the perpetrator for the damage suffered. The State will pay compensation to the victim if the perpetrator has not done so within a certain time. Victims of offences involving serious violence who have suffered severe psychological or physical injury and who do not receive compensation in any other way can obtain compensation from the Violent Offences Compensation Fund. In 2016 there were 120 applications by victims of trafficking, out of which 107 were successful. The maximum compensation payable from the fund is €35,000. Further, the Labour Inspectorate SZW can fine employers that have violated the Minimum Wage Act. If the employer does not offer compensation, the Inspectorate SZW can impose penalty payments of up to €40,000 per employee.

Read the full report here.