Human trafficking fight needs cities, doctors to be proactive: Advocate

Above one of Amsterdam's Red Light Districts. (photo: Quinn Norton/Flickr)

Cities and doctors should make more of an effort to fight human trafficking and to recognize its victims, a new report published on Thursday stated. The report by the National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, Corinne Dettmeijer, noted several alarming statistics where she said the country needs to take immediate action.

She noted that about 95 percent of all municipalities in the country have no specific policy to address human trafficking. While most take responsibility for the care of trafficked victims, the report noted that 35% of the municipalities including cities and smaller towns have little idea if they are affected by human trafficking. 

"The topic should be in the agenda of all the cities, so that we won't miss any victim or offender," Dettmeijer said.

She also wrote of a trend in the healthcare system, saying that half of doctors have likely been in contact at least once with a human trafficking victim. However, since there is no specific protocol, many cases pass by unnoticed. Three quarters of the country's doctors would like to have more information on how to act in cases where trafficking is suspected, and they want to further know what sort of help they may offer.

In one case she pointed to a victim who visited several doctors on 17 different occasions, with a variety of injuries, broadcaster RTL highlighted. However, not one reported the case to authorities, the report stated.

Dettmeijer said there are many glaring disparities and inconsistencies in the way human trafficking is handled by police, social services, and the Marechaussee. The Marechaussee, a branch of the Netherlands' armed forces, is tasked with monitoring the Dutch border. While the agencies work well together, Dettmeijer noted that police and social services quickly investigate at the slightest suggestion of trafficking, whereas the Marechaussee will only provide support if "sufficient signs of trafficking in human beings" exists, what newspaper Trouw called a much stricter standard.