States should offer trafficked persons access to a residence permit on personal grounds
Access to residence is critical for the safety, stability, and future perspective of trafficked persons. However, laws or policies determining which trafficked persons are granted residence permits, vary substantially between different European countries and generally identified trafficked persons do not have much access to regular stay. This prevents many from claiming their rights, leaving them without protection.
Currently, the key provisions on temporary residence permits for victims of trafficking in Europe are foreseen in two EU Directives, namely the 2004 EU Residence Permit-Directive and the 2011 Anti-Trafficking Directive, as well as in the Council of Europe (CoE) Anti-Trafficking Convention.
Within the legal framework of EU Directive 2004/81/EC, victims of trafficking receive support only in so far and as long as it is required by the needs of criminal prosecution, i.e. the residence permit therefore fully depends on victims’ cooperation with the authorities. The CoE Anti-Trafficking Convention – which all 27 EU MS ratified – foresees however, renewable residence permits not only in exchange for cooperation with the criminal justice system, but also on account of the personal situation of victims of trafficking.