On 2 July 2010, COMP.ACT the European Action for Compensation for Trafficked Persons project by La Strada International and Anti-Slavery International was officially launched in Prague. The institutional support that COMP.ACT enjoys from the Council of Europe and the OSCE was emphasised during the launch with a key note speech by the OSCE High Representative on Trafficking, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro and a video message by Thorbjorn Jagland, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

Across Europe it is extremely rare for trafficked people to receive compensation because the mechanisms that are in place for redress are seldom used. Moreover, there are many barriers that discourage them from applying for compensation or obstacles that prevent trafficked people from receiving compensation.

The COMP.ACT project is an initiative in 14 European countries that combines practical work, such as research, test cases and the development of guidelines for professionals with international advocacy and campaigning for access to justice and right to redress for trafficked people. The European coalition consists of NGOs that offer direct assistance to trafficked people, the legal community, labour unions, migrant rights organisations and academics.
The partner countries include Austria, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Spain, Ukraine and United Kingdom.

Thorbjorn Jagland said: "Trafficking is one of the worst violations of basic human rights. The Council of Europe's Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings is the first and only international treaty that explicitly recognises the right of victims of trafficking in human beings to be compensated for the damages suffered and the obligation of the States to guarantee this compensation in their internal law. I am therefore glad that the Council of Europe has lent its support to this important pan-European campaign on compensation for trafficked persons."

"Compensation plays an integral role in the empowerment of trafficked persons, enabling them to achieve their life objectives", said Dr. Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings. "All relevant action must be taken to ensure effective compensation, including legal counselling and representation throughout criminal and civil proceedings, and access to appropriate State compensation funds."

During the panel discussion, Baerbel Uhl, the president of the EU Group of Experts, marked the launch of COMP.ACT as a historical shift in paradigm, instead of treating trafficked persons as passive victims in need of rescue, they are now acknowledged as active claimants of their rights. ODIHR reaffirmed their commitment to the project through active support on research and test cases and UNODC showed a lot of interest in cooperation with the COMP.ACT partners to mainstream compensation into anti-trafficking policies.


Work without pay? Exploitation without compensation? Human trafficking and labour exploitation in Germany