Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings
Article 13 – Recovery and reflection period
1. Each Party shall provide in its internal law a recovery and reflection period of at least 30 days, when there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person concerned is a victim. …. During this period it shall not be possible to enforce any expulsion order against him or her….
2. During this period, the persons referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article shall be entitled to the measures contained in Article 12, paragraphs 1 and 2. Assistance to victims
Article 14 – Residence permit
1. Each Party shall issue a renewable residence permit to victims, in one or other of the two following situations or in both:
a) the competent authority considers that their stay is necessary owing to their personal situation;
b) the competent authority considers that their stay is necessary for the purpose of their co-operation with the competent authorities in investigation or criminal proceedings.
5. Having regard to the obligations of Parties to which Article 40 of this Convention refers, each Party shall ensure that granting of a permit according to this provision shall be without prejudice to the right to seek and enjoy asylum.
EU Directive 2004/81/EC
On the residence permit issued to third-country nationals who are victims of trafficking in human beings … who cooperate with the competent authorities.
Given the control and abuse inherent in prostitution environments, procedures should be sought that will prolong the reflection period for women VOT. The reflection delay should be minimum 3 months, but more adequately 6 months.
National residency regimes, and how they are implemented, have a very important impact on the lives of women VOT. The Nordic and Baltic countries must enhance the possibility for women victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation to be granted both short- and long- term residence permits based on their personal situation and on the basis of humanitarian reasons.
Countries should make sure that different processes work together (the asylum process, reflection delay, temporary VOT residence permits) towards ensuring that the well being of the women victims and her rights are at the centre.
During the reflection delay the women victims shall have access to a range of services, including secure housing, clothing, health care and psychological support, professional advice, including legal advice in a language that she is understands and is comfortable with.
The reflection period must include contents and activities for women VOT. During the reflection period (and when granted a temporary residence permit), women VOT shall be entitled to access training and education, as well as uphold a legal work permit.
It is important to provide predictable information and make sure that women VOT know what will happen. Information concerning the possibility to return, possibilities to remain in the host country must be part of the information provided early on in the process. The information needs to be repeated and provided continuously.
It is important to provide guarantees about the future for women VOT. One could consider granting residence permit to all women victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation who want to stay. Residence permit and insurances about the future for women VOT is also oftentimes important for legal cases to be successfully carried through.