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OSCE Special Representative urges judges to avoid "secondary victimization" in human trafficking cases

OSCE - 31 October 2014 - Haifa, Israel


The OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Ambassador Madina Jarbussynova, advised judges at an international seminar in Haifa, Israel, from 27 to 30 October 2014, to avoid "secondary victimization" of trafficked persons during court cases.

"Despite progress made in recognizing victims' rights in the courtroom, unfortunately, the reality of the criminal justice experience for victims remains ambiguous, and sometimes has a negative impact on their lives," Ambassador Jarbussynova said. "This is what we call secondary victimization."

Jarbussynova cautioned members of the judiciary against viewing victims of trafficking solely as tools for the investigation and prosecution who have their rights protected and assisted only to the extent that they are considered useful for criminal proceedings. This can put victims at risk of emotional and physical violence, particularly if their identities are made public.

The Special Representative also urged judges to support efforts to compensate victims for the harm and damage they have suffered during their trafficking ordeal.

"In practice, this means that victims need access to legal assistance at an early stage in order to participate in legal processes and claim reparations," she said. "The ultimate goal for victims of trafficking should be social inclusion, which in reality often means another job, another option in life."

The event was attended by more than 25 judges from across the globe including representatives from OSCE participating States Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands Romania, United States and Uzbekistan and Partners for Co-operation Israel and Thailand. High-level Israeli officials, including Rahel Gershuni, National Anti-Trafficking Co-ordinator, also took part in, and co-organized, the seminar.

The four-day seminar was organized by MASHAV, Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation and the Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center in co-operation with the OSCE, the UNODC, the IOM, the Institute of Advanced Judicial Studies, Jerusalem, and the Anti-Trafficking Unit at the Israeli Ministry of Justice.

After participating in the seminar, Ambassador Jarbussynova met with Tzipi Livni, Israel's Justice Minister, Tzachi Hanegbi, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Ambassador Gil Haskel, the Head of MASHAV.