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Victim's rights to assistance

Access to support and protection services should be facilitated by state authorities and non-governmental organisations. When a victim is freed in circumstances suggesting that he or she may have been trafficked, there should be an initial presumption that the victim is a trafficked person so they can be properly referred to appropriate support and protection services. This is because, without professional support and protection services, the absolute identification of a trafficked person and the recounting of the events of the crime are far less likely to occur. As a result of the trauma trafficking victims have suffered and the complex nature of the crime, which often involves constant changes of location and perpetrators, it is important to allow the victim time to process what has happened in their own mind (reflection period). In the course of this process, the trafficked person can then make an informed decision about whether to put him/herself at the disposal of the prosecuting authorities as a witness. Should the victims refuse to do so, however, this should not be grounds for excluding him/her from the support structures.

A basic step towards recognising the human dignity of trafficked persons and accepting that they are victims rather than criminals is to afford them access to accommodation, specialised medical and psychological care, counselling, maintenance, and permission to work and continue education or training. It should be appreciated that trafficked persons are individuals with varied experiences and requirements. The variety of backgrounds of different groups of victims highlights the need for a range of counselling and services. (NRM Handbook, pp 24 f)

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