GRETA issues Guidance Note to address trafficking risks

GRETA guidance note

The Council of Europe’s expert group GRETA, released a set of policy recommendations for European states, to quickly provide immediate assistance to people fleeing the war in Ukraine and detect potential victims and traffickers. GRETA’s recommendations include ensuring adequate registration, the training of law enforcement officials and the provision of clear information to refugees.

To prevent situations when individuals offer transportation, accommodation or work to people fleeing Ukraine in exchange for sexual or other services, European states must ensure that assistance and protection are provided by trusted people and in a safe environment. The provision of assistance should not rely on private and non-governmental initiatives; sufficient public resources are needed. Good practices include the vetting and official registration of all volunteers, individuals, organisations and private companies offering and providing assistance, as well as the promotion of safe staff recruitment. Reception and accommodation centres should be located in safe areas. Easy and free access to health services and psychological support for adults and children should be ensured, as should sexual and reproductive health care for victims of sexual violence. Ongoing advice and support to individuals who host people fleeing the war in Ukraine is also crucial for better integration of these people.

Clear information about the risks of being trafficked should be provided at all different stages, in different languages, including Ukrainian and Russian. 24/7 helplines should be reinforced or set up. Easily accessible information on labour rights and employment procedures in the host country should be provided, stresses the guidance note, pointing out the importance of having an official employment contract drawn up in a language which can be easily understood by the employee.

Labour inspectors should intensify their monitoring of high-risk sectors (such as hospitality, agriculture, couriers, food delivery, cleaning, domestic care, car washes, massage studios) and proactively identify new locations where exploitation of people fleeing the war in Ukraine might appear and boost inspections there Besides, as online trafficking in human beings is growing, police officers and labour inspectorates should develop digital expertise, increase their online presence and systematically monitor the Internet, including by screening jobs advertisements and sexual services websites, to more efficiently detect potential victims and traffickers.

A gender-sensitive approach is crucial: to the extent possible, States Parties should increase the presence of female border guards and other officers. Sleeping and sanitation areas for single women (with or without children) must be separated from men.

As the risks of trafficking in human beings are not limited to the war in Ukraine, GRETA stresses that the recommended actions contained in the guidance note should be applied in the context of any armed conflict and concern all people in need of international protection, regardless of their nationality.

Read the Guidance Note