Privacy rules are hitting efforts to combat trafficking, agency says


Strict Dutch privacy laws are making it more difficult to register potential victims of human trafficking and youngsters in particular are slipping through the net, the government agency charged with monitoring trafficking said on Friday.

The number of registered cases has almost halved over the past few years because new privacy rules make it impossible to report cases without the permission of the victim, the report by the National Rapporteur for Human Trafficking said.

‘But what do you have to gain from privacy rules if you have fallen prey to traffickers?’ Herman Bolhaar said. ‘You first want protection, and that is why we have to know who you are.’

For example, Fairwork, which used to report around 125 probable cases a year, made just five reports in 2018, broadcaster NOS reported.

And the number of reports of sexual exploitation plummeted from 3,000 a year to 132 in total last year, of which just 29 involved people under the age of 18. In previous years the agency received reports of some 1,300 minors being trafficked a year.

Fewer registrations mean that the agency is less effective in tackling trafficking, Bolhaar said. In addition, the fragmented approach to the problem is also having an impact, he said.

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