Confiscate and compensate victims of human trafficking

Human trafficking is a crime which is affecting the fundamental human rights and which is likely to generate profound destabilization in the sphere of social security, public health, labour market or education. Also, human trafficking is a catalyst for developing different other crimes in the sphere of organized criminality, such as drug trafficking or arms trafficking. Being the host of one of the most profitable business of the underground world, Romania is being situated, for too many years, first in the European Union as a source country for trafficked victims, encompassing an illegally produced budget of millions of Euros - budget reinvested and reused for the perpetuation, flourishing and diversification  of organized crime offenses.

The traffickers, who always have very generous budgets, at the moment they receive a criminal conviction, when they are compelled by the court to pay for the moral and material damages caused to the victims, invoke the fact that they do not have any properties or regular incomes so they do not have the necessary material/financial means to cover such costs. In theory this is true as all their goods are on other persons names so they cannot be a subject of forced execution and thus cannot be held to the performance of such obligations. This way they wash off the obligation of reparation just as they did wash off the obligation all human beings have to act with the dignity of a human being with another human being.

The victims, per a contrario, are again in the position of having lost the performance of a right in the benefit of the traffickers and thus, often, in the eyes of misunderstanding family, friends, relatives and the community. So, what can such victims do in such a situation and after quite a long time (years) from the moment the crime was committed? They have the right to start a new process in the court for obtaining the financial compensation offered by the state to victims, that if the victims were lucky enough to receive medical care for which they did pay from their own budget and IF they have kept the invoices issued for such services or if they have any evidence on injuries which have caused to them material damages. Of course, by means of this text, we do not intend to enter the root of the problem and analyse issues such as what does material damage exactly mean? how can it truly be quantified? or why only material damages can be the subject of such a request? - Law 211/2004

Therefore we do propose to amend the law 678/2001 on preventing and combating trafficking in persons by introducing a new article as follows: "The Movable and Immovable assets of the persons who have committed the crime of trafficking in human beings, if such assets have been used to commit this crime or if they have resulted from committing this crime, are subject to confiscation. The property forfeited will go into an endowment to compensate the victims of human trafficking and to support the assistance to this category of victims."

Such a measure has the following benefits: reparative function, so the victims have the possibility of receiving a fair compensation - also to avoid the situation in which the victims cannot be compensated even though the goods were seized as they got into state ownership; effective measure to combat human trafficking – even if one or more individuals were extracted from a group of organized crime, they are always easily replaced, but when the tools for committing a crime are taken away the group is, at least temporarily, immobilized; increasing the quality of services provided to victims of trafficking, given that theoretically they are entitled to a series of services which are however practically provided in most parts of Romania voluntarily by NGOs.

Adina Schwartz - Fundatia Pro Prietenia Arad    Contact the author of the petition