Icelandic authorities should take more steps to tackle human trafficking according to a new report. These measures include improving the identification of victims, stepping up investigations and protections, and ensuringe that victims are not forcibly returned to countries where they risk being re-trafficked. These are the conclusions of a newly-published report from the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) on human trafficking victims’ access to justice and effective remedies in Iceland.
This is GRETA’s third evaluation report on Iceland and assesses the developments since its second report was published in 2019. GRETA welcomes the progress Iceland has made in tackling human trafficking in several areas, including the amendment of the provision criminalising human trafficking, the adoption of the third National Action Plan for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, and the setting up of a police advisory group on human trafficking.
Should pay increased attention to asylum seekers
However, GRETA also “urges Iceland to take further steps to improve the identification of victims of trafficking by setting up a formalised National Referral Mechanism which defines the procedures and roles of all frontline actors who may come into contact with victims of trafficking,” according to a press release. “The authorities should pay increased attention to the identification of victims of trafficking among asylum seekers and ensure that victims are not forcibly returned to countries where they risk being re-trafficked.”
New legislation strips asylum seekers of services
New legislation on immigration passed in Iceland’s Parliament last spring states that asylum seekers whose asylum applications have received a final rejection will be stripped of essential services unless they consent to deportation. As a result, dozens of asylum seekers unable to leave Iceland for reasons personal or political are being stripped of housing and services, leaving many of them on the streets. Authorities disagree about who is responsible for providing for the group’s basic needs.
One asylum seeker impacted by the legislation is Blessing Newton, who came to Iceland five years ago to escape sex trafficking in Italy. Her spokespeople say that she is at risk of becoming a victim of sex trafficking again if she is deported from Iceland.
GRETA’s full report on Iceland’s combating of human trafficking is available online.