From Iceland — Human Trafficking Laws May Get Extended Protections For Labourers, Compelled Smugglers

Human Trafficking Laws May Get Extended Protections For Labourers, Compelled Smugglers

Published February 1, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir has submitted a bill to Parliament that proposes changes to the human trafficking section of the Icelandic Penal Code, Fréttablaðið reports, which would expand protections for survivors of human trafficking.

“The discussion about human trafficking, for the most part, revolves around sex work,” Áslaug said. “But human trafficking is connected to various organised crime activities, and the bill is a part of expanding protections for survivors of all of these instances.”

There is statistical confirmation to back up the need to expand these protections. According to police records, roughly one third of the human trafficking cases they have worked on concerned sex work; roughly half have concerned other kinds of workers.

“A significant increase, whether in construction, restaurants or tourist businesses, brings with it an increase in imported workers,” Áslaud said. “The police have determined that there are victims of human trafficking within these industries, which have increased dramatically in recent years.”

The bill would also expand protections for those compelled to smuggle drugs into Iceland, or who were forced to commit other kinds of crimes.

Svala Ísfeld Ólafsdóttir, a docent with the law department of the University of Reykjavík, wrote the bill in question.

“Survivors [of human trafficking] are often afraid of their perpetrators and fear retribution against them or their families,” she told reporters. “They seldom come forward and are often not cooperative. This is why it is important that the government provide substantial protections for survivors of human trafficking.”

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