U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - The Netherlands

The Netherlands (Tier 1)

The Netherlands is primarily a destination and transit country for trafficking of women and girls for the purpose of sexual exploitation; trafficking for labor exploitation exists to a lesser extent. Most victims are trafficked from Central and Eastern Europe, with some victims from Nigeria and Brazil. Reportedly, a significant percentage of the 25,000 individuals engaged in prostitution reportedly are trafficking victims. Internal trafficking of young, mostly foreign girls by Moroccan and Turkish pimps into sexual exploitation also occurs. The Netherlands Antilles, where the Netherlands exercises responsibility over visa issuance according to guidelines issued by the Netherlands Antilles, became more of a concern as a transit and destination for illegal migrants, some of whom may have been trafficked.

The Government of the Netherlands fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Although the government did not provide final 2004 data on investigations, prosecutions, convictions and sentences, the Secretary of State has determined that it has made a good faith effort to do so. In 2004, the government adopted an anti-trafficking national action plan, expanded its outreach to potential trafficking victims and increased overall funding for protection and prevention. In January 2005, the government supplemented its existing trafficking law and incorporated forced labor into its definition of exploitation, bringing penalties in line with international standards. International scrutiny continued to focus on the legalized commercial sex industry in the Netherlands. Police reported a decrease in trafficking in the legalized sector, though comprehensive data on the number of trafficking victims is unavailable because the government did not carry out a recommended systematic screening of foreign prostitutes in the redlight district. While the government initiated several information and awareness raising campaigns, additional targeted and highly visible campaigns aimed directly at customers and women in the redlight zones should be made to increase effectiveness in combating the overall problem.


The Netherlands, in 2004, expanded the legal definition of trafficking to include forced labor and increased the maximum penalty for traffickers from six to eight years. Sentences of up to 12 years can apply in cases of serious physical injury. Average sentences increased by almost 3 months in 2003. Preliminary enforcement statistics reflected an increase in cases investigated for the first nine months of 2004. During this period, Dutch police initiated 604 investigations and referred 87 cases for prosecution. In 2003, the courts successfully prosecuted 127 trafficking-related crimes. The police incorporated anti-trafficking curriculum into regular police training; and a similar model was developed for public prosecutors and judges. Information on the modus operandi of traffickers was distributed to all regional police forces. There were no reports of official corruption or trafficking-related complicity.

The government reported that strict controls and licensing requirements for brothels were employed as a means of combating trafficking. Under the Public Information Integrity Act, the local government of The Hague denied licenses to five sex firms and withdrew two existing licenses due to indications of involvement in illegal activities, including trafficking. Police conducted unannounced bi-monthly visits to brothels in Amsterdam to check for illegal conduct.


In 2004, the Dutch government increased its funding for shelters assisting trafficking victims by 1.2 million Euros. Additionally, regional governments funded shelters, victim protection programs and local education programs. The Dutch Foundation Against Trafficking in Persons (STV), the national reporting center for registration and assistance for trafficking victims, registered 405 trafficking victims in 2004, an increase from 267 the previous year. Moreover, 185 trafficking victims received B-9 residency permits, an increase from 84 in 2003. In April 2005, the government enacted regulations to allow B-9 permit holders the right to work and eligibility for benefits and education assistance. Victims not wishing to apply for the B-9 were informed of other asylum options, including the option of accepting the B-9's three-month reflection period. In 2004, the government donated 28.5 million Euros to UNICEF to protect child victims of trafficking.


In 2004, the Dutch government initiated targeted information campaigns to prevent trafficking and raise awareness among government officials and the public. These included: an information campaign on the anonymous crime reporting hotline; a B-9 residency permit awareness campaign; and new public awareness campaigns on youth prostitution targeting at-risk youth in schools and among asylum seekers. During the reporting period, the Health Ministry subsidized a "stepping out" program aimed at re-socialization and psychosocial support. Information brochures in five languages on development of such assistance packages were distributed to local governments and distributed to 2,000 vulnerable women in prostitution across the Netherlands. Under this program, the government also funded Dutch language lessons for women formerly in prostitution and conducted outreach to 800 foreign national prostitutes to escape dependency on pimps and traffickers. In addition, the government funded outreach through an NGO in 2004 to 22,000 women in prostitution, potential trafficking victims and clients in the Amsterdam redlight district. The government, in January 2005, established a center aimed at preventing involvement of youth in prostitution to consolidate all prevention, information and support activities. The government continued to focus efforts on international prevention and outreach to source countries, and provided significant funding for a number of programs in those counties. The government has provided funding since 2003 to prevent the international sexual exploitation of children and international child forced labor.


Anecdotal reporting suggests that the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, autonomous regions within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, are transit and destination regions for trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation. Curacao and Saint Maarten, in particular, reportedly are destination islands for women trafficked for the sex trade from Columbia, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. In Curacao (and neighboring Aruba) observers estimate that 500 foreign women are in prostitution, some of whom may have been trafficked. There are also reports of children being trafficked for sexual exploitation as underage prostitutes, particularly from the Dominican Republic. In September 2004, Curacao prosecuted and sentenced two traffickers who trafficked children from Suriname to Curacao using fraudulent documents. Visas for Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles are issued by Dutch Embassies following review by Aruban or Netherlands Antilles' authorities. Visa controls were reportedly tightened in 2004. Also in 2004, the Dutch government provided 100,000 Euros to an IOM program focused on awareness raising, information dissemination and regional cooperation targeting officials from the Dutch Caribbean.


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