The role of the protected shelter in ending human trafficking

For EU Anti-Trafficking Day, Mind the Children published a series of three perspectives on the fight against human trafficking. In the first interview, Lost in Europe shed light on the perspective of investigative journalism. For the second interview, we spoke to Warner ten Kate, the Dutch National Public Prosecutor for trafficking in human beings and people smuggling, for his view from within the justice system. In this third and last interview we speak to the spokesperson of COA, the Central Reception Organization, taking care of asylum seekers in the Netherlands.

What is life like in the protected shelter?

“These young people receive intensive 24-hour guidance from day 1 and go to school every day. Together we work on their resilience and independence. This happens in three phases: settling in, residence and saying goodbye. In the first phase, for example, they are not allowed to go outside without supervision. After a while they get more freedom, and are allowed to go outside independently for a short period. Time and distance are constantly being expanded. Obviously there are language barriers and cultural differences, but the people that work at the shelter have experience with this, and organise activities with cultural aspects such as food and music.

In the protected shelter a number of security measures apply to protect the minors against human traffickers and / or smugglers. They are not locked up, but their freedom is limited. For example, they have to hand in their mobile phone and are not allowed to use the internet without supervision. This way, COA tries to prevent unwanted departures. Most minors successfully complete the program in the protected shelter and move on to follow-up care. Unfortunately, we cannot say that about the Vietnamese minors. We have even seen them disappear through a tiny window on the first floor.”

The full interview can be found on the website of Defence for Children-ECPAT Netherlands.

Photo: © COA.