VIENNA, 21 June 2011 – The OSCE Strategic Police Matters Unit launched a new guide today for police on identifying and assisting victims of human trafficking.
The publication, “Trafficking in human beings: identification of potential and presumed victims. A community policing approach”, is based on the findings of a meeting of anti-trafficking and community policing experts hosted by the OSCE in November 2010 in Vienna. It was launched on the sidelines of the 11th High-level Alliance against Trafficking in Persons conference hosted by the OSCE.
“Police are often the first point of contact for trafficking victims, and they can play a crucial role in victim assistance. But trafficking cases are extraordinarily complex, and it is not always easy for police officers to recognize victims, who in some cases are mistakenly detained and later deported,” said OSCE Senior Police Adviser Knut Dreyer.
Victim identification is a key element in combating trafficking, but without proper measures in place to identify the victims, such crimes are often not documented or prosecuted. The police, while familiar with trans-border trafficking crimes in sexual exploitation cases, tend to have less experience with identifying victims trafficked for other purposes such as domestic servitude or extorted labour in the construction, agriculture or garment industries.
“Good identification criteria and approaches that build on existing police-public partnerships can result in a more effective criminal justice response, while protecting the rights of the victims,” said Dreyer. “These guidelines produced by the OSCE draw on both community policing and anti-trafficking expertise, and aim to support police in identifying and helping victims, as well as assisting in the prosecution of their exploiters.”