Access to Remedies Panel Discussion
Victims of human trafficking have the right to access remedies without facing barriers. This was the shared message of the five panellists at the UN event organised by FI and GAATW and co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Italy. The need to redress wrongs and provide remedies (assistance) to victims is a fundamental legal principle, and a well-established rule of international human rights treaties and recognised principles.
Ms. Joy Ezeilo, UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking, especially Women and Children, introduced her 2011 report that examines the content and scope of the right to an effective remedy in the context of trafficking in persons. She offers recommendations to States and other actors to achieve the realisation of this right. This aims to improve access to justice and guarantee compensation for trafficked persons. Compensation for trafficked persons is crucial in the fight against trafficking – not only as an instrument of restorative justice and prevention of re-trafficking, but also as recognition by Governments of the violation of rights and the damages suffered by trafficked persons.
Ms. Youla Haddadi UNHCR Advisor on Human Trafficking emphsised that: "Governments are responsible for causing further harm to victims of human trafficking if they do not fulfil their human rights responsibility in providing them with access to remedies. The right to remedy is a human right in itself, and should be a part of all Governments customary laws."
Sr. Justine Senapati SJA, invited by FI to share her experience of working with victims at the UN, reported that the Government of India is failing to take immediate action to protect the girls and women of Kandhamal, who are trafficked in larger cities under the guise of security and livelihoods.
"Supreme Court lawyers and legal researchers have recently exposed the failure of the Justice System in Kandhamal," Sr. Justine noted. "They have shown that the inadequacy of laws and the failure of the police and courts to bring criminals to justice need to be immediately addressed. There will be a continuing challenge to stop the human trafficking unless the Government protects and safeguards the interests of every citizen in India. The rights of the women are violated. The Government has to acknowledge and fulfil its responsibilities."
The event helped increase awareness that there is a need for governments to remove obstacles in their systems and procedures that prevent those trafficked from accessing compensation and rights.
Sr. Justine Senapati SJA testifies on working with domestic workers in India
Ms. Joy Ezeilo, Special Rapporteur for Human Trafficking, especially Women and Children, speaks on policies to protect and compensate victims of human trafficking