Opening remarks by the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights at the first Regional Consultation on the Right to Effective Remedies for Victims of Trafficking in Persons

1 March 2013

Distinguished Panellists
Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me a great pleasure to open the first regional consultation on the right to effective remedies for victims of trafficking in persons.

The aim of this consultation is to discuss the set of draft basic principles on the right to an effective remedy for trafficked persons, proposed by the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons Ms. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo. You will have a chance to share with the Special Rapporteur not only your views and recommendations, but also your experiences, including challenges and good practices in applying the right to effective remedy for victims of human trafficking.

This consultation is timely. Victims of human trafficking have often been exploited for little or no payment over long periods of time. They may have suffered injuries or contracted illnesses that require medical attention. They may have incurred debts as a result of their trafficking experiences. While measures to provide remedy for victims of trafficking exist in some countries, they continue to be under-utilized. Some countries, for instance, have expressly granted victims of trafficking with the right to take private action against their traffickers and have included mandatory restitution to trafficked persons as part of the criminal sentencing of traffickers. Other countries grant victims the right to bring a civil action against their traffickers, regardless of their nationality or migration status.

Knowledge of your right is key to claiming it. To enable victims to exercise the right to remedy, it is essential that they be provided with appropriate information, including on the procedures they can use to obtain compensation.

In this context, I would like to draw your attention to the OHCHR Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking, which provide some direction as to what is meant by each component of effective remedies. These principles draw heavily on the international human rights law.
Restitution relates to re-establishing the situation that existed prior to the occurrence of the violation. Actions in this regard can include the release of victim from detention; recognition of legal identity and citizenship; return of property; and safe return to one’s place of residence.

Compensation is payable for physical and psychological harm; lost opportunities; loss of earnings; moral damage; and medical, legal or other costs incurred as a result of the violation.

Rehabilitation is a victim-centered notion that recognizes a need to ensure that the person who has suffered violation of their human rights has his or her status and position “restored” in the eyes of the law as well as of the wider community. Rehabilitation includes the provision of medical and psychological care as well as legal and social services. It is evident that victims of serious violations of human rights such as trafficking will inevitably require a range of support services. The rehabilitation element of effective remedies imposes an obligation on the State to provide such services.

Satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition: Satisfaction is a remedy for injuries that are not necessarily financially assessable but can be addressed by ensuring that the violations of the victim’s rights are properly acknowledged and dealt with. Verification of the facts and full and public disclosure of the truth (to the extent this will not cause further harm) are examples of remedies aimed at providing satisfaction to the victim.

Satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition are an important component of the right to a remedy in the case of trafficking due to the danger of and harm caused by re-trafficking. Safe return, integration support and measures to prevent future trafficking would be relevant to the discharge of this aspect of the right to effective remedy, as would be the effective investigation, prosecution and sanctioning of traffickers.

An important prerequisite for realizing access to remedies is the presence of the victim in the country where the remedy is being sought. States are requested to facilitate the presence to enable trafficked persons to remain safely in the country in which the remedy is being sought for the duration of any criminal, civil or administrative proceedings.

Excellencies
Ladies and Gentlemen

The draft basic principles on the right to effective remedy we are discussing today would be a useful and elaborated tool to assist member states in realising the right to effective remedy for victims of trafficking. Those principles are intended to provide states with guidance in operationalizing the right to effective remedy, to bring more clarity to the concept of the right to effective remedy, and to elaborate specific factors to be taken into account when granting this right to victims of trafficking.

I look forward to the discussions today and to the outcome of your deliberations on this important subject.

Thank you