August 8, 2020

80% of trafficking cases provide compensation that victims do not charge

The courts have recognized the right of victims of trafficking to receive compensation in 46 of the 56 judgments handed down since 2012 – 82 per cent of the cases – although in practice, most do not receive more than a symbolic amount or, simply, none.

This was explained by the Deputy Prosecutor for Immigration of Barcelona, ​​Pilar Izaguerri, on the day "Access to Justice and compensation to victims of trafficking in perspective: evolution and current challenges 1999-2019", which gathered all the agents involved in the investigation of this crime: security forces, magistrates, prosecutors, lawyers and NGOs.

A conviction is the only way for victims of trafficking to receive compensation for this crime, hence the importance of collecting all the evidence to prove it; however, many times they only count on the victim's testimony, which can lead to their double victimization.

"Prosecutors recommend that we dispense with that testimony", but behind them there is "a complex migratory process, with recruitment, violence, deception, and to prove that someone has to tell you," Izaguerri pointed out.

Between 2012 and 2017, the Spanish courts issued 56 convictions for trafficking; in 46 cases they recognized a compensation, in three they denied it and in the remaining 7 they gave up asking for it.

The amounts were very different – some "300 euros" -; but, he insisted, quantifying these damages requires always making an individualization of the cases.

Although it has not been able to provide the data on the execution of these rulings, the prosecutor has indicated that the majority has not collected any amount and, if they have done so, it is symbolic. "I think I'm not wrong if I say that very few have access," he added.

One of those who have not had it is Elena, a woman of Latin American origin with Spanish nationality who, prey to the economic difficulties she was going through, was deceived by another woman who offered to participate in a business to get out of that situation.

After providing initial money, the operator said that a criminal gang demanded more money; to gather him, he forced her into prostitution.

Therefore, the defendant was sentenced to 13 years and to pay a fine of 100,000 euros, although Elena has not come to collect anything and may never do so because the condemned has no assets in his name.

And it is that one of the main reasons why they do not get to receive any number is the insolvency that the condemned ones allege; therefore, the lawyer Sandra Camacho has appealed to the need to deepen the patrimonial and financial inquiries in the initial stages of the investigation to request the seizure of property.

Marta González, a lawyer with Proyecto Esperanza, added that "there are barriers that prevent survivors from enjoying this right effectively" because "few have the means to claim" and, when they do, "it is anecdotal and exceptional".

For this reason, it has highlighted the urgency of identifying victims "quickly and correctly", guaranteeing them legal assistance, granting them work permits so they can remain in Spain, not opening expulsion proceedings or imposing penalties or sanctions on those who have committed some crime being subjected by a trafficking network.

Ten of the judgments handed down in Spain have been included in the European project "Justice at last", in which organizations from nine countries participate, including the Esperanza and Sicar CAT Project of Adoratrices, which has analyzed a total of 60 cases with more than one victim involved.

The study shows that the European courts decided to grant compensation in 40 of them, two out of three; but only in eleven the victims received some payment, usually minimal, while in the rest they did not receive any amount.

And it reveals enormous differences by countries in the compensations recognized: the greater, of 190,000 euros, took place in Rumania, where the Court admitted moral and material damages to a woman by sexual exploitation, drug addiction and HIV infection.

On the contrary, the lowest one took place in Austria, where the Justice granted only 800 euros to a woman treated for the purpose of sexual exploitation for moral and material damages.

Victims who, according to detailed Joaquín Sánchez-Covisa, prosecutor of the Immigration Unit Room, are mostly women from countries "of extreme poverty", without training, without knowledge of the language and who are "alone and humiliated" .

"We can not sleep in peace while they are left to their own devices," the prosecutor has said. "It's about compensating people who have experienced episodes comparable to torture," he said.


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