Practical guide to enhance transnational cooperation: EU child victims of trafficking or in need of protection

What?

The 2017 Communication on Reporting on the follow-up to the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of trafficking in human beings and identifying further concrete actions requested the Commission and the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) to develop “practical guidance to enhance inter-agency and transnational cooperation aiming to prevent child trafficking of EU children, ensure protection of child victims, find durable solutions and safeguard their rights under EU and international law.”

The project is undertaken as part of the work programme activity 'Providing fundamental rights expertise in the area of home affairs'.

Why?

According to Eurostat, the majority (65%) of registered victims of trafficking are EU citizens. EU children are trafficked for sexual exploitation, forced begging, petty crime, labour exploitation or benefit fraud. Despite this shared challenge, there is no standardised approach to dealing with cases of EU child victims of trafficking or in a vulnerable situation who are found unaccompanied in another EU Member State.

The new guidance will provide EU Member States with practical suggestions on how to respond step-by-step from the moment of identification of the child until a lasting solution in their best interests is found. It will also provide a brief overview of the relevant international and EU legal framework, especially in the area of criminal justice, victims’ rights and cross-border cooperation among EU Member States.

How?

The guidance will pay particular attention to issues of jurisdiction between Member States: how to improve coordination between all actors involved, not only at national level, but between EU Member States and what protection mechanisms and safeguards need to be in place. Of particular relevance is the need to determine the best interests of every child in each particular case, without resorting to an automatic transfer of the child back to the country of origin. A best interests assessment is the optimal method in order to prevent cases of children being re-trafficked.

The Guidance is expected to be published in the first half of 2019, in a joint effort with the EU Anti-trafficking Coordinator. The guide is based on desk research and on consultation with experts in Member States, international and European institutions.