Article 15(2) of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings obliges State Parties to provide in their internal law for the right of victims of trafficking to legal assistance and free legal aid. As court and administrative procedures are often very complex, legal assistance is necessary for victims to be able to claim their rights. Access to legal assistance is also important to enable victims to take civil actions for compensation and redress.

On 22-23 November 2016, the Council of Europe Anti-Trafficking Division, together with the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, organised a meeting of lawyers and NGOs providing legal assistance to victims of trafficking in human beings (see below). This led to the setting up of a Network of specialised lawyers and NGOs providing legal assistance to victims of human trafficking.

The Network aims at strengthening the implementation of the provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. It enables the exchange of experience, legal strategies, good practices and information on the relevant case-law; it also facilitates transnational referral of trafficked persons and co-operation of lawyers in cross-border cases; furthermore, it supports and encourage strategic litigation, and specialised training. The members of the Network participate in the Network’s meetings, webinars and are encouraged to maintain regular exchanges via a restricted Sharepoint platform.

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