Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings
Article 12 – Assistance to victims
1. Each Party shall adopt such legislative or other measures as may be necessary to assist victims in their physical, psychological and social recovery. Such assistance shall include at least: a) standards of living capable of ensuring their subsistence, through such measures as: appropriate and secure accommodation, psychological and material assistance; b) access to emergency medical treatment; c) translation and interpretation services, when appropriate; d) counselling and information, in particular as regards their legal rights and the services available to them, in a language that they can understand; e) assistance to enable their rights and interests to be presented and considered at appropriate stages of criminal proceedings against offenders; f) access to education for children.
2. Each Party shall take due account of the victim’s safety and protection needs.
3. In addition, each Party shall provide necessary medical or other assistance to victims lawfully resident within its territory who do not have adequate resources and need such help.
4. Each Party shall adopt the rules under which victims lawfully resident within its territory shall be authorised to have access to the labour market, to vocational training and education.
5. Each Party shall take measures, where appropriate and under the conditions provided for by its internal law, to co-operate with non-governmental organisations, other relevant organisations or other elements of civil society engaged in assistance to victims.
6. Each Party shall adopt such legislative or other measures as may be necessary to ensure that assistance to a victim is not made conditional on his or her willingness to act as a witness.
7. For the implementation of the provisions set out in this article, each Party shall ensure that services are provided on a consensual and informed basis, taking due account of the special needs of persons in a vulnerable position ….
All assistance must be centred on the woman victim and her needs. An individual care plan should be developed for each assisted woman, including:
Food and clothing
Social and psychological support
Money for activities
Training and education possibilities
Support in dealing with authorities
All women should have right to assistance, even if they do not report to the authorities or have a legal case running. Moreover, access to services and assistance should not automatically be conditional on whether the victim has ceased all contact with the trafficker and/or pimp. Instead the individual situation of each woman victim must be taken into account.
Women victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation will receive individualised and specialised assistance and services, which recognises the specificity of sexual abuse and violence in prostitution environments.
In order to provide the necessary support, services must be developed on the basis on awareness and respect for cultural differences, and support must be provided in several languages (always in a language that the assisted woman understands).
It is important to integrate the support of other women that have been victims of sexual exploitation into the process of victim assistance.
Women victims of trafficking will be provided with secure and protected housing. However, they will be entitled to move freely if they wish. Victim-centred guidelines for shelters should be developed.
Legal support should include liasing and support with legal processes in the home country if a return is being planned.