A presumed victim of Trafficking in Human Beings is identified (recognized)
Organisations most likely to be the first ones to identify a presumed victim
- Social Workers
- County Coordinators against Human Trafficking
- Swedish Police/Border Guard
- Swedish Migration Agency
- Lawyers/legal aid personnel
- Shelters (for abused women)
National Point of Contact / Initial Referral
The Swedish Gender Equality Agency (Jämställdhetsmyndigheten, JÄMY) functions as the National Point of contact for national coordination against Human Trafficking in Sweden. The agency runs a hotline for professionals who may have identified a potential human trafficking case or a victim of Human Trafficking and need method support: (+46) 20390000, website: www.nmtsverige.se
The Hotline is open during office hours 9.00-16.30 on Monday – Friday
With the victim’s consent, s/he may be referred to the relevant state agency or NGO, according to the Swedish National Referral Mechanism (NRM). However, JÄMY may be consulted about the case even if the victim does not give their consent. In these instances, it is important that the victim’s personal details are not disclosed. The victim can however consent to being referred to an organisation or state agency which may handle personal details.
Formal identification of a victim
Anyone can detect a victim of human trafficking in Sweden. Although the procedure of formal identification is not described in the legislation, the Swedish NRM states that a person is formally identified only when a preliminary investigation is initiated by a preliminary investigation leader, usually the Police or sometimes the Prosecutor. The threshold for initiating a preliminary investigation is rather low as it only requires that a person is suspected to be a victim of THB. A preliminary investigation is a way for the victim to obtain a legal status, if s/he does not have one.
It is important to note however that presumed victims of THB can be detected and provided with various forms of support and assistance outside the process of formal identification and preliminary investigation. If an asylum seeker is presumed to be a victim of THB, s/he will in that case be given support and assistance by the Migration Agency.
Providing victims of THB with a legal status is the most necessary first step in order to provide them with assistance, regardless if it is through a reflection period, temporary residence permit, asylum or permanent residence permit.
In cases where the presumed victim is a migrant without a residence permit or otherwise without legal right to remain in Sweden, it is possible to apply for shorter periods of residence permits.
When a preliminary investigation is initiated by a preliminary investigation leader, a reflection period of 30 days can be applied for. The application for the reflection period is processed by the Swedish Migration Agency. A granted reflection period allows the victim to reflect on whether s/he wishes to cooperate with authorities or not. It also means that municipalities can be reimbursed by the state for a share of the expenses related to the victim assistance.
Furthermore, the Police can apply for a temporary residence permit for the victim. There is no need for the Police to apply for a recovery period and a temporary residence permit in this order. If deemed necessary by the Police, after a close dialogue with the victim and assistance providers, it is possible to apply for a temporary residence permit directly.
If the victim has a legal status in Sweden, the probability of receiving assistance is higher than if there is no ongoing investigation. Irregular migrants will in these instances most likely be assisted only by NGOs.
Is the victim willing to report a crime and take part in criminal proceedings?
The threshold for receiving assistance in Sweden varies depending on the form of assistance. In general, the threshold is high as the victim needs to be formally identified as a victim of THB by the Police. If the victim has a legal status, s/he will most likely receive some form of assistance as the welfare system in Sweden is broad. However, establishing contact with the National Hotline run by the Gender Equality Agency on an early stage after identifying a presumed victim is helpful and will most likely ensure a more effective victim referral.
A victim of THB with a legal status can access most health and welfare services that Swedish citizens are entitled to. The types of assistance range from a shelter and accommodation to language courses, dentist appointments and vocational training. At this stage of the process, the victim most likely has an individual plan of assistance drafted by the responsible authority or the service provider.
The following actors assist victims of human trafficking:
- Swedish municipalities
1. Services provided by municipalities
Services to the victim of human trafficking are provided according to a developed plan of assistance and can include:
- counselling and guidance;
- safe accommodation;
- reception allowance or social assistance;
- social services;
- health care services;
- interpretation and translation services;
- tracing a parent or some other person responsible for the actual custody of an unaccompanied minor who is a victim;
- support for a safe return.
According to the Swedish Social Services Act, an exploited person in need of assistance, including presumed victims of human trafficking, are entitled to receive support and assistance, regardless of formal identification. Municipalities which do not have experience in handling cases of THB may at any time contact the appointed Regional Coordinator in their region for support in human trafficking cases.
2. Services provided by NGOs
NGOs have a prominent role in assisting victims of human trafficking in Sweden, although it is the official responsibility of authorities and municipalities to aid victims of THB. The Swedish NGOs provide services for victims who do not wish to cooperate with authorities or who are not offered assistance by the authorities. As NGOs have limited resources and often services are project’ based, assistance might vary in certain periods of time. NGOs assist victims in legal proceedings and perform customer-oriented social work.
The main non-governmental actor providing victim assistance regardless of the formal identification in Sweden is the Swedish Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings.
The Swedish Civil Society Platform Against Human Trafficking gather more than 20 NGOs and shelters working against THB and aiding victims in Sweden. The NGOs play a crucial role in identifying presumed victims and often offer housing as well as long-term support for those who remain in Sweden after criminal proceedings. These services can be provided in cooperation with the municipality’s social services. The Platform cooperates with governmental authorities at various levels to improve the support to those who have been exploited. Often victims of human trafficking are accommodated in the shelters run by NGOs.
Moreover, the Platform is the main actor offering irregular migrants exploited in THB assistance and support.
Does the victim wish to return to the country of origin?
The Swedish Voluntary Return Program for victims of Trafficking in Human Beings was set up in 2012 and has since then functioned as the main mechanism for returning victim of THB to their country of origin. The program is financed and run by the Swedish Gender Equality Agency in its capacity as the national coordinator against Human Trafficking and is facilitated and implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM)in Helsinki.
The assistance provided through the return program includes travel arrangements and expenses from the person’s current location to the final destination, and possible reintegration assistance such as cash or in-kind assistance. IOM makes travel arrangements and provides assistance at the airport during the return trip.
Any Swedish professional may refer a victim of THB to the voluntary return program. The first step of the process is to contact a Regional Coordinator and inform them about the case. The victim may receive support through the return program regardless of her/his willingness to cooperate in criminal proceedings. The process requires that the professional and the Regional Coordinator fill out the application for the voluntary return. The application is processed by the IOM Helsinki and may offer the victim various forms of support before, during and after the travel to the country of origin. The return is tailored according to an individual support plan drafted by the responsible professional, usually the social services or county coordinator, in dialogue with the victim.
Victims who are granted a permanent residence permit in Sweden, or obtained a work permit, can access integration programmes, healthcare, language and cultural studies, professional training, basic education, help with mapping out professional skills, help with applying for work, and social services. These are public services provided by both state actors as well as municipal actors.
There are no state programs tailored specifically for victims of THB. Victims of THB can either access the regular long-term integration programs available or receive long-term support from NGOs who can tailor an individual plan for the victim’s rehabilitation and long-term integration. Detailed information about the long-term assistance to victims of human trafficking in Sweden is available at a Road map for integration of victims of human trafficking among migrants in Finland, Germany, and Sweden.
Type of assistance and contact details
Type of assistance Institution/organization Contact details National point of contact and coordinating body, voluntary return program The Swedish Gender Equality Agency Hotline: (+46) 20 390 000
Regional coordination and victim support Swedish Regional Coordinators against Prostitution and Human Trafficking Stockholm:
(+46) 8-50825669, (+46) 76-1225669
Shelter, rehabilitation assistance and long-term support Swedish Civil Society Platform against Human Trafficking E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Counselling for victims of sexual exploitation, outreach work, victim referral The Mika Reception Centers in Stockholm and Gothenburg,
Evonhuset in Malmö
Phone: (+46) 8508 25 501 Address: Högbergsgatan 2
Phone: (+46) 2032 73 28
Address: Södra Allégatan 1
Phone: (+46) 2035 40 40
Address: Stora Nygatan 55
Investigation The Swedish Police Authority Phone: 114 14 (112 if emergency) Asylum, visa and work permits The Swedish Migration Agency Phone: (+46) 77123 52 35 Website: www.migrationsverket.se