Fair compensation for victims of human trafficking? A case study of the Dutch injured party claim

Jeltsje Cusveller*, Edward Kleemans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Any person who has been a victim of human trafficking has a right to compensation. Compensation entails the reimbursement of material and immaterial damages a trafficked person has suffered. In spite of the internationally recognized right to compensation, the number of trafficked persons in Europe having actually received any reimbursement is very low. The present study identifies obstacles to compensation by analysing the Dutch injured party claim. It uses 190 case files covering the period 2013–2014. The empirical results show several issues. Only an estimated 4% of all registered victims claim compensation in the criminal court. A fifth of these claims are inadmissible. Admissible claims are on average awarded only half of the claimed amount. A major reason for this is how difficult it is to estimate damages accurately. This is, in many cases, related to a lack of proof, caused by for example lack of records, insufficient financial investigation, and incomplete testimonies, which result in only minimum amounts being awarded. Additionally, judges are often inclined to dismiss the claim or award a minimum, even in those cases where evidence is available. As a result, compensation is often not in line with damages that have actually been suffered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-311
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Review of Victimology
Issue number3
Early online date1 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • compensation
  • Human trafficking
  • victimology
  • victims


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