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Bill for better protection against human trafficking to House of Representatives | News item

Human RightsBill for better protection against human trafficking to House of Representatives | News item

The legislation criminalising human trafficking is to be expanded and simplified to help detect and prosecute offenders of human trafficking and to provide better protection for victims. This is the essence of the bill that State Secretary Van der Burg of Justice and Security is sending to the House of Representatives, also on behalf of Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius of Justice and Security and Minister Van Gennip of Social Affairs and Employment.

More severe punishments for offenders

With this bill, the government is taking an important step which will make it easier to treat serious labour abuses suffered by vulnerable groups in the labour market, such as substantial underpayment, unsafe working conditions or poor housing, as criminal offences. A new offence of ‘serious disadvantage’ is to be introduced into the law for this purpose. This will ensure that offenders are punishable if they abuse vulnerable people in the workplace.

In addition to abuse, there must be gross disadvantage in the form of, for example, substantial underpayment, violation of working hours and times, poor housing, or restrictions of freedom such as the confiscation of a passport. This bill will make it easier to address these glaring abuses through criminal law. The victims of this are often and particularly vulnerable groups, such as migrant workers.

As State Secretary Van der Burg explains: “People are all too often still falling victim to human trafficking. They are unable to live in freedom and that’s something we, as a society, should never accept. We owe it to ourselves to protect victims and crack down on offenders.”

Minister Van Gennip adds: ”All too often the way migrant workers are treated is below the standards we should be setting ourselves in the Netherlands. So we’re taking several measures to improve the situation. This bill will make it easier to prosecute offenders for serious abuses relating to the working and living conditions of migrant workers. It is an important step, as the bar for prosecution is currently set too high.”

The bill also broadens the scope for tackling offenders who profit financially from trafficking. It defines more clearly what behaviour is punishable. This will help organisations charged with investigating, prosecuting and trying such behaviour, such as the police, the Netherlands Labour Inspectorate, the Public Prosecutor Service and the judiciary.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity.

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