The Icelandic Red Cross plans to investigate the extent of human trafficking in Iceland and come up with a strategy on how to react to it in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs.
“We are interested in learning about the nature of this problem and thus an investigation is required,” divisional director of the Red Cross in Iceland Helga G. Halldórsdóttir told Fréttabladid.
Minister of Social Affairs Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir has appointed a committee to develop a strategy by the end of this year on how to fight human trafficking in Iceland.
Representatives of Stígamót, the Icelandic Counseling and Information Center for Survivors of Sexual Violence, Ahús, the Intercultural Center in Reykjavík, the Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, Reykjavík Social Services and an independent lawyer recently undertook an informal study on this matter and concluded that most of the individuals involved had encountered between six and 20 victims of human trafficking in Iceland. The numbers may overlap.
Margrét Steinarsdóttir, a lawyer at Ahús who has assisted victims of human trafficking, said it has different forms but what all victims have in common is that they are in a desperate situation which criminals take advantage of.
They may come to Iceland on their own accord and agree to marriage to obtain a residence permit, but once they are here they are deprived of their freedom and their passports are often taken away, Steinarsdóttir said.