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In order to be acknowledged in a ‘victim protection status’, the victims have to meet  three basic requirements:

  • leave their exploitative environment;
  • accept the mandatory assistance offered by an approved centre specialising in providing reception facilities and assisting trafficked persons (through all the phases of the proceedings);
  • lodge a complaint or make statements concerning the people or the networks of traffickers who have exploited these victims.

In practice the procedure consists of  4 phases:


  1. A (possible) victim is identified and directed towards 1 of the 3 specialized reception centres. After an in-take interview, the victim has a reflection period of 45 days. During this period, the victims in question can decide whether or not they wish to register a statement concerning the persons or the networks of the trafficking in human beings which had exploited them. During this first phase the victim has an order to leave the country within 45 days.
  2. The victim who have filed a complaint receives an attestation of matriculation type A valid for 3 months. During this phase, too, assistance from a specialist centre is mandatory and the victim may be provided with a C work permit entitling them to work.
  3. After this phase the victim receives a certificate of registration for six months provided the inquiry is still underway, the Prosecutor's Office or the Labour Auditor regards the person as a victim of trafficking, the person is still cooperating and has severed all ties with the exploiters and is not considered as a danger for public order or the security of the state. The permit may be extended until the end of the legal procedure.
  4. When the complaint or statements lead to a conviction on the basis of the Law on trafficking in and smuggling of human beings, the victim is issued with a certificate for undetermined stay.  The first conviction entitles to a right of residence even when the counterpart appeals.
Photography by Elke Roelant