In a new report published today, the Council of Europe expert body on trafficking in human beings (GRETA) praises Germany for having significantly evolved its national legal framework against human trafficking since the first evaluation of the implementation of the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings in 2015.
GRETA welcomes the introduction of the new offence of human trafficking and related amendments to the German Criminal Code, which reflects the Convention’s provisions in a significantly more comprehensive manner. Legal amendments made to the Residence Act strengthen the right of trafficking victims to be issued a residence permit for the purpose of their co-operation in criminal proceedings and introduced the possibility for victims to receive a temporary residence permit after the conclusion of criminal proceedings if humanitarian or personal reasons or public interests require their further presence in Germany.
However, Germany still does not have a national action plan or strategy against human trafficking. Furthermore, the government needs a comprehensive and coherent statistical system on human trafficking by compiling reliable statistical data from all main actors, including specialised NGOs, on measures to protect and promote victims’ rights.
In addition, Germany should strengthen multi-agency involvement in victim identification for all forms of exploitation, by giving a formal role in the identification process to frontline actors and enabling identification independently of the initiation of criminal investigations. Further steps need to be taken to proactively detect and identify victims of trafficking among asylum seekers.
GRETA also calls for greater attention to preventing and combating human trafficking for labour exploitation. The report notes the insufficient training for police officers, inspectors, prosecutors and judges to properly deal with this form of trafficking. It calls for improved monitoring of recruitment and temporary work agencies, raising awareness among migrant workers about the risks of labour exploitation and ensuring that inspections can take place in private households with a view to preventing abuse of domestic workers.
The report asks the German authorities to ensure that all victims of trafficking, regardless of the form of exploitation, have effective access to assistance and protection, regardless of whether they co-operate with the law enforcement authorities. Assistance, including safe accommodation, must also be provided to male victims of trafficking.
According to GRETA, Germany also needs to better ensure that unaccompanied and separated children benefit from effective care arrangements, including appropriate accommodation, access to education and health care, with a view to preventing human trafficking.
Further steps are needed to facilitate and guarantee access to compensation to victims of human trafficking. Criminal and civil procedures regarding compensation should be more effective and enable victims to exercise their right to compensation by informing them – in a language they can understand – of the right to compensation and of the procedures to be followed.