Sharp drop in human traffickers prosecuted in Netherlands

The number of people prosecuted for human trafficking in the Netherlands last year, was a quarter lower than the year before, NRC reported on Monday based on figures from the Council for the Judiciary. This does not necessarily mean that human trafficking decreased, but rather that the police are giving priority to other crimes, experts said to the newspaper.

Last year 103 people were convicted of human trafficking, compared to 139 in 2015 and 156 in 2013. 

According to professor Conny Rijken of Tilburg University, the police and Koninklijke Marechaussee set other priorities over the past two years. For example, they've increased focus on dealing with undocumented migrants, at the expense of human trafficking investigations, he said to  NRC. Moreover, during the reorganization into the National Police, many human trafficking experts ended up in other departments, resulting in knowledge being lost, Rijken said.

Criminology professor Dina Siegel of Utrecht University noted that proving human trafficking is increasingly difficult. "Victims often accept unfair and unequal agreements with the dealer", she said to the newspaper. "They do not feel exploited and do not report. Without proof, a case can't go to court."

Professor Mirjam van Reisen of Tilburg University said that the Public Prosecutor focused on major human traffickers over the past few years.

The National Police and Public Prosecutor would not comment on the figures to NRC.