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Resume master's thesis Kate Lazaridou

How do NGOs Contribute to the Combat of Trafficking in Human Beings for Labour Exploitation? An Analysis of the Dutch Case

Human Trafficking is a serious international crime and a profound violation of human rights. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has reported that every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad. Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims. Human trafficking can take many forms; however, the two most commonly detected forms are sexual and labour exploitation. Trafficking in human beings for labour exploitation is a violation against human dignity; furthermore it can be claimed that it is the modern-day equivalent of slavery. In human trafficking for labour exploitation, traffickers try to isolate victims in an environment where they are unable to feel safe and seek for help. Moreover, there is no comprehensive awareness of the nature of the problem among the population and labour exploitation has received less attention in previous studies compared to the trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Human trafficking is a complex issue, many actors - such as governments, law enforcement authorities, NGOs, researchers and academics - play an important role in combating this crime. Even though NGOs play a key role to this issue, only few studies have addressed their role in the anti-trafficking battle.Therefore, this master’s thesis sought to assess the role of NGOs in the fight against human trafficking for labour exploitation and tried to add some knowledge to this research gap.Furthermore, the case study of the Netherlands is analyzed because the Netherlands is considered to be a country that successfully implements policies for action against human trafficking in accordance to international regimes, and NGOs play a role and contribute in various ways in the fight against human trafficking.

In focusing on the Dutch case, and by conducting a literature review and semi-structured interviews with relevant actors in the field, this research came up with five categories, in which NGOs are active in the fight against labour exploitation; commencing from the individual assistance to victims by “(1) Providing Services” (which is already known as NGOs are generally assumed to be active in assisting victims) and “(2) Reinforcing the Victim’s Perspective”, to the broader aid in society as NGOs are also active in the “(3) Identification of Victims” and in “(4) Raising awareness”. Last but certainly not least, the “(5) Partnership” category depicts the importance of collaboration of NGOs with civil society and the state authorities because it strengthens and makes more effective the above four practices and as a result improves the combat of human trafficking.

To conclude, the Dutch experience can be used as a good example of NGOs’ contribution to the fight against labour exploitation because of the plethora of actions taken by NGOs and the relatively good cooperation between NGOs and the state authorities. Of course there is always room for improvement points (for instance strengthening the position of victims in the future), but a working structure in the Netherlands consisting of several organizations seems to work relatively well. The Dutch NGOs have managed up to date to form a good reputation because they cooperate well with the government, they have acquired a more objective approach towards the whole problem of human trafficking and they are constantly searching for ways to improve their policies.