Dutch Ambassador present at “Break the Chain” initiative

The Embassy of the Netherlands in Athens participated in the “Break the Chain” initiative on human trafficking, which took place at the City of Athens Technopolis, on October 24th and 25th. During the opening ceremony, representatives of various embassies spoke about the initiatives of their country in the area of human trafficking, while the Ambassador of the Netherlands, His Excellency Caspar Veldkamp delivered a speech, on “Human Trafficking: the Dutch perspective”.

According to the Ambassador, the Netherlands is a source destination and transit country for men, women and children from the Netherlands, Eastern Europe, Africa and South and East Asia, subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. In 2014, the majority of the victims originated in the sex-industry sector. Vulnerable populations include Dutch girls enticed by young male traffickers, unaccompanied children seeking asylum, women with dependent residency status obtained through fraudulent or forced marriages and women and men recruited in Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia ending-up in a situations of forced labor. In 2014, the majority of the felonies (84%) were often committed on women, and nearly one fifth of the victims were minors.

Next to complying with international standards and the European strategy 2012-2016, the Netherlands offers various initiatives to combat human trafficking in and outside Europe. The National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence against Children, Mrs. C.E. Dettmeijer-Vermeulen, plays an important role in this field: the National Rapporteur reports independently to the Dutch Government on the extent of human trafficking and sexual violence against children in the Netherlands and on the effects of the government policies pursued.

Through article 273f of the Dutch Penal Code, all forms of trafficking are prohibited. However, the application of the Dutch criminal code on human trafficking takers into regard the means of exploitation, the role of coercion and free will, and the difference between sexual exploitation and other forms of exploitation. For this reason, and to pursue consistency in sentencing, the National Rapporteur has stressed the importance of specialized and experienced judges in this field. As of 2013, the Netherlands is the first country in the world to make human trafficking a specialization for judges.

In addition, in the current increase in human trafficking, the government of the Netherlands is developing a draft law to increase the punishment imposed on human trafficking felonies.