What is the remedy then?
Roeland: “A more persistent approach. The first 24 hours in a reception center they have to immediately receive counseling, that really works and is happening more and more, but apparently not yet systematically. I think that has to do with a feeling of discouragement. The minors want to disappear again, because they don't want to stay in our country, Belgium is a transit country. ”
Doruntina: "The government should put human trafficking higher on the list of priorities and make more resources available."
Roeland: “It is on the agenda of our new government, although of course it is a years-long process. At first, the disappearances kind of drowned in the sea of other things that needed to be done. But it is not our job as journalists to determine policy. ”
Doruntina: “Yes, as journalists we expose the problem, then it tells itself. We dig up the problem, investigate and monitor it, but it is up to policymakers to grasp it and get to work on it. ”
The victims of the Essex truck drama also included two Vietnamese boys, aged 18 and 17 at the time. They ran away from the special secure migrant reception center in the Dutch region of Limburg and followed by the Dutch police to Anderlecht, a suburb of Brussels. Despite being informed by their Dutch counterparts, the Brussels Public Prosecution Service (OM) took no further action. Should that be further investigated?
Roeland: “Yes. It remains insufficiently vague why it was first said that the investigation had been stopped at the request of the Netherlands, something that later turned out to be untrue. Later, the Belgian Public Prosecutor's Office stated that there were suspicions of human smuggling, but insufficient information for further investigation. No warnings have been issued by the Public Prosecutor's Office, not to the specialized investigators, not to the reception services, althouh that option is available. This should not become standard practice. This issue is not over yet. ”
How is the cooperation in Belgium between the protected reception and the police?
Roeland: “There is no perfect chain between the police and shelter services and vice versa. I would like to know how that collaboration works and why it isn't better. ”
Doruntina: “There should be much more focus on coordinated cooperation. But we do have a new government, so we are waiting to see if anything will change on this front.
Are you following the prosecution of the case in London?
Roeland: “Yes, and I especially hope that the proceedings will provide more insight into connections between different people. Investigations into smuggling networks are still ongoing. I would like to know more about the structures and organizations from here to Vietnam. ”
Do you have a question for the Dutch National Prosecutor for Trafficking in Human Beings, whom we will interview next for this series?
Roeland: “In criminal investigations you can arrest and try perpetrators, which is satisfying for the public prosecutor and for investigators. What do they consider to be the indicators of success? And does he feel that they are winning the fight against human trafficking?"
Written by Mieke Breedijk – Defence for Children