Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings
Article 16 – Repatriation and return of victims
2 - When a Party returns a victim to another State, such return shall be with due regard for the rights, safety and dignity of that person and for the status of any legal proceedings related to the fact that the person is a victim, and shall preferably be voluntary.
5 - Each Party shall adopt such legislative or other measures as may be necessary to establish repatriation programmes, involving relevant national or international institutions and non- governmental organisations. These programmes aim at avoiding re-victimisation. Each Party should make its best effort to favour the reintegration of victims into the society of the State of return, including reintegration into the education system and the labour market, in particular through the acquisition and improvement of their professional skills. With regard to children, these programmes should include enjoyment of the right to education and measures to secure adequate care or receipt by the family or appropriate care structures.
6 - Each Party shall adopt such legislative or other measures as may be necessary to make available to victims, where appropriate in co-operation with any other Party concerned, contact information of structures that can assist them in the country where they are returned or repatriated, such as law enforcement offices, non-governmental organisations, legal professions able to provide counselling and social welfare agencies.
Safe returns must be seen as a process. This process includes: services and support in the host country; a due period of time enabling for the woman to recuperate; a risk-assessment and preparation/planning period before the return; and finally a range of services and support in the country of return.
The return process must not be in contradiction to the best interest of the woman victim, and returns must aim to be voluntary. Victims shall never be charged for the costs of travel or documentation in relation to their return.
Safe returns require bi-lateral links between support and service providing structures, and must include development of safety plan for the woman returning. A structure/institution responsible for the return process needs to be identified in each country, and properly financed to coordinate the referrals and return process.
A needs-assessment will be carried out in order to plan and make available specialised services upon return. The following support and services must be in place: housing, drop-in services and counselling; health care; financial assistance; and job training opportunities.
Bi-lateral links must also be developed in order to coordinate a legal case, and ensure efficient cross legal systems case work.