The OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, said at a judicial training seminar in Rome on 26 October 2012 that victims’ legal rights must be given the same priority as punishing perpetrators in criminal proceedings involving human trafficking.\
In her address at the conference attended by judges and prosecutors from across the EU as well as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Giammarinaro underlined the need to protect victims’ rights before, during and after criminal proceedings.
"Victims must be considered holders of rights in criminal proceedings, and not merely sources of evidence", Giammarinaro said. "This assumption has implications which are not obvious. For example prosecutors should consider that protecting a victim from further traumatisation is equally as important as pursuing the punishment of a perpetrator."
She stressed the importance of upholding the right to claim compensation, which is still one of the most difficult aspects of providing justice for victims in human trafficking cases. Participants in the seminar discussed a number of good practices that make compensation a reality, including early legal counselling and the use of state funds.
"There is momentum,” Giammarinaro added. “The Council of Europe Convention and the EU Directive on trafficking must be implemented immediately, including through innovative judicial practices aimed at interpreting national legislation in a manner that is in line with international instruments, especially with provisions on victims’ rights.”
The event was organized by Poland, Italy and the Netherlands