New practitioner guide series aim to strengthen and standardise protection and support for victims of trafficking
The Regional Support Office of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons, and Related Transnational Crime (RSO), together with the NEXUS Institute, is launching a new Practitioner Guide series to strengthen protection and support for victims of trafficking and promote a joined up approach across services—from ensuring that individuals are correctly identified as victims, to support for legal redress, to rehabilitation and reintegration into communities.
Victims of trafficking often endure significant challenges in accessing the assistance they need. This ranges from a lack of awareness about their rights, fears of retaliation from traffickers, and limited access to legal aid services. In the ASEAN region, an estimated one third of migrant workers in the Asia-Pacific region have an irregular status in their country of destination—and almost half of migrant workers state that they have experienced exploitation.
Following the re-opening of borders as the world emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic, numbers of victims of trafficking have unfortunately risen sharply. A priority issue is the rise of online scam centres and the human trafficking which is fuelling their operations. Trafficking into forced criminality in online scan centres has disrupted traditional notions of source and destination countries, as well as the profile of trafficking victims—with young, educated and computer-literate individuals being lured into scam centres through social media and other online job advertisements. Some of the largest of these scam centres reportedly home more than 10,000 criminals, scammers and trafficking victims—with evidence of horrendous conditions, torture and abuse.
Supporting a joined up approach
In this complex environment, the new Practitioner Guides developed by the RSO and the NEXUS Institute, and funded by Australia’s Department of Home Affairs, offer practical insights and recommendations to enhance victim support and offer a joined up approach for practitioners across their various interactions with victims and potential victims of trafficking—from frontline law enforcement and border and immigration officials, to social workers and psychologists, to lawyers, and paralegals.
Ahead of the launch of these guides, the RSO has also worked with A21—a non-governmental organisation that works to combat trafficking in persons, including sexual exploitation and forced labour—to seek further feedback and guidance based on the experiences of survivors when accessing services and support.
The guides are intended to serve as a practical resource that provides guidance to help practitioners ensure that their assistance is victim centered and trauma informed. The guides are intended to be particularly helpful to those new to the field of trafficking or who are starting out in their careers.
The Guides are available in English, Bahasa Indonesian, Malaysian, Vietnamese, and Thai and can be downloaded from the Bali Process website. The series includes:
- Trafficking Victim Identification
- Trafficking Victim Protection and Support
- Recovery and Reintegration of Trafficking Victims
- Special and Additional Measures for Child Trafficking Victims
- Special and Additonal Measures for Victim-Witnesses
- Access to Remedies
David Scott, RSO Co-Manager (Australia) highlighted the value of the guides to practitioners: “These guides provide tools and tips to help practitioners who are working with trafficking victims, ensuring they are not further victimised, to ensure victims can have their voices heard, and to give them the best chance to rebuild their lives. With trafficking a challenge faced by all Bali Process Member States—as source, transit and destination countries—these guides can also play a role in supporting policy development, national action plans on combatting trafficking in persons and expanding internal governmental capacity building endeavors”.
Rebecca Surtees, Senior Researcher, NEXUS Institute said: “At the heart of all of our work on anti-trafficking is and must be the experiences, perspectives and need of trafficking victims themselves. Learning from and listening to trafficking victims – of all genders, ages, nationalities and experiences – is key in ensuring that victim protection responses are victim-sensitive and trauma informed. These practitioner guides put this vital information into the hands of practitioners and offer concrete guidance on how to move forward with their vital and life saving work. Our intention in preparing these practitioner guides is to support and enhance the work of practitioners who are on the frontline of efforts to identify, protect, assist and reintegrate trafficking victims in ASEAN and Bali Process Member States. We are grateful for their work and commitment”.
Peerasin Chatchawarat, After Care Manager at A21 said: “Standardised guidance for practitioners supporting victims of trafficking has been a major gap for some time. Understanding best practices and experiences from across the region makes this user-friendly tool an invaluable resource that will deliver real benefits to the rehabilitation and reintegration of trafficked victims back into their communities."
RSO Thematic Dialogue on Access to Remedies
The guides will be launched at the RSO Thematic Dialogue on Access to Remedies on Tuesday 8 August 2023, 9am-3pm, at the Skyview Hotel, Sukhumvit 24, Bangkok, Thailand.
Speakers will include the Department of Home Affairs, Australia; Dr Ratchada Jayagupta, Representative of Thailand to the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Rights on Women and Children; Anukul Paedkaew, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Development and Human Security; Judha Nugraha, Director for Protection of Indonesian Citizens, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Indonesia; Kohnwilai Teppunkoonngam, Regional Coordinator for East and Southeast Asia, ECPAT International; Mallikka Karunan, Survivor Advocate, Art. 21 Foundation; Peerasin Chatchawarat, After Care Manager A21 and Laura Johnson, Research Associate at the NEXUS Institute and author of the guides.
You can also join the meeting via Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/93860318511?pwd=YjZKUzVVY2J5d1hvWERweE8zbkxLdz09
Meeting ID: 938 6031 8511