Human trafficking reports drop 15 pct; no reason to rejoice

The number of reports of human trafficking victims dropped 15 percent last year, from 1,561 in 2014 to 1,321 last in 2015, according to a report by the National Rapporteur on Trafficking and Sexual Violence Against Children, Corinne Dettmeijer. But the decrease in reports is no reason for optimism, Dettmeijer warns.

"This is worrying, because we have no reason to believe there were fewer victims", she said in the report.

Dettmeijer believes the decrease in reports can be attributed to changing priorities at the police and the Koninklijke Marechaussee - a policing force that works as part of the Dutch military and is responsible for border security.

The Marechaussee is now more focused on human smuggling than human trafficking, according to the Rapporteur. Percentage wise the Marechaussee also saw the biggest drop in reports - 45 percent fewer reports last year.

"Asylum seekers, who often got here with the help of smugglers, are vulnerable to trafficking, therefore one should be extra alert to signs of human trafficking", Dettmeijer warns.

The decrease in reports was smaller with the police - 14 percent fewer last year - though it already started in 2013, when there were 36 percent fewer human trafficking reports than in 2012. Dettmeijer believes that a major reorganization at the police may be to blame.

Dettmeijer wants Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice to ensure that the capacity in the fight against human trafficking does not suffer under deployment to other priorities. She wants him to take measures so that officers are quicker to recognize signals of trafficking within the immigration and asylum seekers inflow.