Crime Victims – Denmark

1. Before Reporting to the Police
2. Making a Police Statement
3. Initiation of Legal Proceedings
4. Court Proceedings
5. After the Verdict

1. Before Reporting to the Police

A. Consult a Counsel!

If a prostitute becomes a victim of violence or trafficking in women, the police

are interested in her statements as victim/witness – for instance against the perpetrators of trafficking in women, against persons who have brought her into the country or to whom she has had to give part of her earnings. But women who work as sex workers without the appropriate residence and work permits commit an offence themselves (for further information, see Sex Work and Prosecution). In this case, the woman is – as far as the police are concerned – both crime victim and accused.
She should therefore always seek advice before going to the police.
Confidential advice is offered by the hotline for migrant prostitutes and trafficked women, as a primary source of information. Personal counselling may also be offered by the hotline counsellors. The hotline phone number is (+45) 70 20 25 50.The advisory centre will not forward information regarding the woman, such as her name and address, to the police or aliens authorities. The advice is therefore always confidential.

If the woman decides to go to the police, she must be aware that she may have to give a statement not only to the police. She can, however, give a notice of revocation and can step back from testifying at any time throughout the legal proceedings. These proceedings may take a long time to come to a conclusion.

B. Confidential Legal Advice

The advisory centre can arrange contact with specialist lawyers. The centre is in contact with lawyers who work for victims of trafficking. The lawyer will apply to be appointed as a counsel for the woman and will be paid by the state or by the advisory centre.
For the victim of trafficking to be assigned a lawyer by the state, she has to be recognised as a victim of trafficking by the police. Until this is the case, the advisory centre will contact a lawyer.

C. Confidential Medical Examination

As a victim of crime, the woman can have a medical examination either at a rape centre or a casualty department of a hospital. This will be paid by the government. The doctors will not be obliged to report the crime, but may assist the woman in reporting the crime to the police.

D. Police and Justice Prejudices Against Prostitutes

General police awareness of the crime of trafficking is rising, but not all police precincts in the country are aware of the crime and contact the advisory centre to assist women who are trafficked.
In the case of violence, rape or personal threats to prostitutes, the police generally investigate the case sincerely and adequately. There is no specialised police department for the examination of adult victims of crimes, but there are comprehensive guidelines for the treatment of victims by the police.

E. Trafficking in Women

1. Trafficking in Women is….
  • when a woman is actively encouraged through false promises regarding work possibilities and earnings to come to Denmark, regardless of whether a job in another field was promised to her or whether she was willing to work in prostitution;
  • when a prostitute’s identity papers or earnings are taken away from her;
  • when a woman is forced into prostitution or into giving sexual services;
  • when a prostitute is blackmailed, threatened, humiliated, beaten, raped or imprisoned.In the above instances, it is irrelevant whether the woman previously worked as a sex worker or whether she was willing to be a prostitute because/while she was misinformed about working conditions and earnings in an exploitative way.The name of the criminal offence in Danish Law is Trafficking in Human Beings (§262a Criminal Code) and was amended in 2002. It is in line with the terminology of the UN Protocol and the EU framework decision.
2. Special Rights for Trafficked Women

If a woman has become a victim of trafficking she can participate in an action plan run by the authorities. This offers a number of activities for victim protection.

The woman will be granted a residence permit for 15 days to get a reflection period about whether she wants to act as a witness in penal proceedings or not. During this time she can stay in a protected safe house and have medical, psychological, legal and other support.

The NGO running the safe house will offer to contact an NGO or other organisation in the woman’s country of origin, which can assist her upon her return, protect her against being re-trafficked and in being reintegrated into society, possibly through education and vocational training.

2. Making a Police Statement

The police require the woman to make a statement in the police station as victim/witness – for instance against the perpetrators of trafficking in women or against persons who have brought her into the country or to whom she has had to give her earnings.
Please note:
A woman who works without the appropriate residence and work permits commits a crime. In this case she is an accused party and has different rights to when merely a witness! (See Prosecution)

A. Right to Remain Silent

A victim/witness is not obliged to speak when questioned by the police. If she wants to testify, she has the right to remain silent about anything which incriminates herself or her closest family.

B. Female Officer

If the woman wishes, she may ask to be questioned by a female officer. She is not entitled to be interrogated by a female officer. However, she should ask for it. If the police agrees, she may have to wait for a female officer to be found.

C. Interpreter

The witness is entitled to the services of a certified interpreter in her own language. He/she will be paid by the state.
If she does not trust the interpreter, she may refuse him or her. Formally she does not have to tell the police the reason for her mistrust, but she may be asked to do so.

D. Lawyer

The woman is entitled to the services of a legal counsel. Moreover, the police have to inform her about her rights. She is entitled to the presence of her lawyer during questioning by the police.
Hint: Memorise a lawyer’s telephone number!

E. Trusted Person

If she wishes, she may be accompanied by a trusted person (e.g. a female friend, advisor) for questioning.

F. Custody

If the woman is considered a victim of trafficking by the police or if she does not wish to stay in a safe house for the reflection period (see Trafficking in women), she will be interrogated at the police station. She will be kept there until she is expelled, generally within 24 hours.
If the woman is willing to testify, a preliminary court hearing will be arranged for her to give testimony, in order that her statement can be used in a possible later case in court against the perpetrators.
She can also be detained if she is an accused party (e.g. for illegal residence, illegal employment) (see Prosecution).

G. Special Rights for Trafficked Women

If the woman’s statement or other evidence leads the police to believe that she may have been a victim of trafficking in women (Definition), she has special rights.
1. Consideration Period

The woman may be granted residence toleration to enable her to think about whether she wishes to give evidence as a witness against the perpetrator(s) in court proceedings. This reflection period for victims of trafficking is 15 days. This period can be prolonged in extremely special circumstances, if the woman has been exposed to severe violence or abuse. During the reflection period the woman is expected, but not required to stay in the safe house. (There have not yet been any cases where a woman has stayed for the full 15 days.)

2. Right to Residency

During the reflection period of 15 days the woman may stay legally in Denmark. After the 15 days she will be expelled and returned to her country of origin. If the woman decides to act as a witness she may be granted a longer stay if the police investigates the case and if the woman’s personal conditions in general call for it (This has not yet been exercised).

3. Advice and Support
a) Accommodation and Help

The woman is entitled to obtain social, medical, psychological and legal advice from the advisory centre/safe house (NGO) during the reflection period.

b) Legal Advice

The woman will be informed of her rights in relation to testifying via written information material. Upon request, she will be put in contact with a lawyer to support her. The lawyer will be paid by the advisory centre.

c) (No) Criminal Proceedings Against the Victim/Witness

Criminal proceedings against the woman for illegal residence may be dropped if she assists the police in investigating or by testifying, but there has been no such case yet.

3. Initiation of Legal Proceedings

After questioning the woman and other witnesses, the police and public prosecution decide whether to initiate legal proceedings against the perpetrator(s). During these proceedings, the police and public prosecution gather evidence against the perpetrator. During the hearings, a woman who is the victim of a crime may be questioned again as victim / witness. At the end of legal proceedings the public prosecutor decides whether to accuse the perpetrator(s) before the criminal court.

A. Duration of Legal Proceedings

Often a long time passes between the woman’s first hearing as witness, the beginning of legal proceedings and her statement as witness. This is because proceedings relating to trafficking in human beings and similar offences are often long-term processes involving many accused parties.
In Denmark the Penal Code was amended in 2002 to include a crime of trafficking in human beings (§262a). There has been one successful penal proceeding in a case concerning trafficking in women. Five men from Balkan countries were sentenced for trafficking and related crimes of about 20 Czech women. The police raid was in December 2003 and the sentence was passed at the beginning of September 2004.

B. Trafficked Women

1. Right to Residency

If the woman decides to give evidence in court as a witness against the perpetrator(s), she may in exceptional cases, which have not yet occurred, be granted a toleration until she gives evidence before court. If the woman decides to give evidence, she will be called to give her testimony in court in order that the evidence may be applied in later criminal proceedings in court.

2. Living Conditions

Care for victims of trafficking is offered by the advisory centre and the safe house, rung by an NGO and paid by the state.

a) Care Programmes at Advisory Centres

There is no formal care programme worked out as yet. The safe house is in the process of formalising a procedure and methodology of care for victims.

b) Accommodation, Language Courses, Study or Work

This is (unfortunately) not relevant in Denmark, given the reflection period being 15 days.

c) Police Protection Schemes

There are no specific police protection schemes for trafficked women in Denmark.

d) Social Benefits

During her stay in the safe house, the woman receives a small allowance and – if necessary – clothes and other necessities. Food is provided by the safe house. Medical aid is free from the doctor of the safe house. If requested the woman may choose another doctor free of charge.

e) Work

This is (unfortunately) not relevant, as the woman may only be granted a longer residence than the 15 days in very exceptional cases.

3. Decision to Appear as Witness or Joint Plaintiff

Before the commencement of court proceedings, the woman should decide – together with her lawyer – whether to give evidence as a witness or also to file for personal injuries and damages. The woman may file a claim for personal injuries and damages caused to her by the traffickers during the case, and the civil claim will thus be treated together with the criminal case.

a) Role as Witness

1. Limited to the Giving of Evidence as Witness
As a witness, the woman is invited only to her hearing as a witness. She may neither participate in earlier appointments, nor may she obtain information regarding the contents of files. She is not informed about the course of proceedings, nor is she able to influence these.

2. Lawyer
The witness may be accompanied to her hearing by a lawyer. In cases concerning incest, rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse, violence and trafficking and some other personal crimes, a counsel will be assigned to the injured party at request. If the victim does not request a counsel, the police may request a counsel to be at disposal during the investigation. (Administration of Justice Act, chapter 66, §§741a and §741e). He / she will ensure that the witness rights are observed during the investigation and the court proceedings.
The lawyer’s fees are paid by the state.

b) Rights as a Civil Party

The counsel awarded to the woman will also assist in elaborating the economic claim during the criminal case and will, when prosecution has been decided, have access to all the material presented by the police and prosecution. The counsel is to be informed about the times of interrogations and court meetings.

1. Right to View Documentation
In Denmark the woman, as an accused party, has no right to view documentation of the case.

2. Participation in All Appointments
The women has no right to participate in the appointments referring to her case.

4. Court Proceedings

In court, the case is considered afresh, that is, independently of previous enquiries by the police and public prosecution. When criminal proceedings are opened, the crime victim is invited to give her evidence as a victim / witness. At the end of the proceedings the court issues a verdict as to whether the perpetrator(s) is / are guilty or not.

A. Duration of Court Proceedings

See the information above.

B. A Witness Gives Evidence

1. Duration

The woman may be asked to give testimony in court immediately after her testimony to the police, in order to ensure her testimony as evidence for the court proceedings.
The woman’s statement is given either in the course of one day or of several days.
Occasionally the witness may also be asked to attend a second time later in the proceedings because new questions concerning her have arisen.

2. Questions

Questions are put to the witness by the public prosecutor, the defence and her own lawyer and if necessary the judge.

3. Obligation to Testify

The witness must answer the questions truthfully and omit nothing; otherwise she risks criminal action against her on grounds of perjury / false testimony. She is allowed to remain silent about information which incriminates her or her closest family.

4. Lawyer

When giving evidence the woman may be accompanied by a lawyer (her counsel) upon request. The counsel makes sure that the witness’s rights are observed. The counsel will be paid by the state.

5. Interpreter

The witness is entitled to the services of an interpreter in her own language. If she feels unable to trust the interpreter, she can refuse / him on grounds of interest. The court then decides whether to provide another interpreter.

C. Protection of the Witness

In court, the witness’s counsel insists on the witness’s rights to protection. For this reason, the witness and counsel should discuss beforehand what the individual possibilities for protection are, and which of these the witness wishes.

The hotline ((+45) 70 20 25 50) for trafficked and foreign women in prostitution may offer information about rights as a foreigner, as a victim of a crime and as a witness.

1. Police Protection

The woman may be accompanied and protected by the police during the entire proceedings, and particularly during her statement as witness.

2. Giving Evidence Anonymously

On request from a witness before the court proceedings, the court can decide to close the proceedings, prohibit the mentioning of the name of the witness and decide that the accused shall leave the court room during the testimony of the witness. The court can also decide that the name, address and occupation of the witness may not come to the attention of the accused. The counsel will assist the witness in making this request to the court.

3. Evidence in a Non-Public Hearing

The public is excluded from proceedings if personal or intimate questions are to be put to the witness. In practice, this is always the case with sexual crimes.

D. Compensation for the Victim

1. From the Perpetrator
The woman in question may make damages and compensation claims in court against the perpetrator(s). The Act on Liability for Damages offers this possibility for damages of pain, impairment and loss of ability to support him / herself as well as possible material losses. The claims may also be made during the criminal proceedings.
a) During Criminal Proceedings

See information above.

b) During Civil Proceedings

A trafficked woman may file for personal injury etc, as above, in separate, civil proceedings. The woman must be present during the case and may be granted a temporary stay during the case. There have not been any such cases as yet.

2. From The State
Victims of crime have a legal claim to damages. That means, the state will pay the damages with recourse to the perpetrator(s). Damages may be claimed if the crime is reported to the police without delay or if the victim presses charges during a criminal case.

5. After the Verdict

A. Right to Residence

Women who have become a victim of trafficking in women do not acquire a right to residence after the proceedings. In extremely rare cases, a woman may be granted residence for humanitarian reasons. If the woman has been married to a Danish man, she may acquire a temporary residence permit on the strict conditions relating to this. (Our foreign legislation is a disgrace for your orientation). The non-refoulement requirement of the European Human Rights Convention is respected but applied strictly.

B. Support in Leaving the Country

1. Travel Costs

In Denmark the state will pay travel costs for the woman’s homeward journey and for procuring documents. The woman may be restricted in re-entering Denmark for one year, if her visa and other relevant papers were not legally acceptable. In case of illegal re-entering she may be met with a claim to reimburse the costs for her homeward journey.

2. Help With Setting Up

As part of the implementation of the Action Plan for the prevention of trafficking and protection of the victims, a co-operation between Danish NGOs and NGOs of countries of origin is being developed. In this context an embassy network is being developed and is intended to help the woman find contact to NGOs or programmes in her country of origin to assist her starting up in her own country, etc. This may be the case where the NGO which runs the support service does not have an adequate partner in the country which can assist in this process.

3. Contacts

The phone number of the hotline for trafficked women and foreign women in prostitution is (+45) 70 20 25 50.

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