This Government must act to stop Human Trafficking

October 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

For a number of years now I have been a supporter of and a campaigner with the anti-human trafficking NGO’s ‘Stop the Traffik’ and ‘Hope for Justice’ and have interviewed the two respective leading lights of those organisations; for StT, the Reverend Steve Chalke, who is an advisor to the United Nations on Community Response to Human Trafficking, and for HfJ, Ben Cooley, an incredible young man committed to tackling this modern-day slavery.

From my years of campaigning I know that the issue of Human Trafficking is a very serious one, and something that must not be ignored by Governments across the West.

Before I discuss the issue surrounding the response by the Coalition to this problem, let us just remind ourselves exactly what Human Trafficking is:

‘…to be deceived or taken against your will, bought, sold, and transported into slavery, for sexual exploitation, sweat shops, child brides, circuses, sacrificial worship, forced begging, sale of human organs, farm labour, domestic servitude.’ (According to ‘Stop the Traffik.’)

You may well be now asking, just how big can this problem be?

The answer, very sadly, is huge.

Let’s take a look at just a few of the statistics:

*1.2million children are trafficked every year (estimate by UNICEF)

* At least 12.3million people are victims of forced labour worldwide-of these, 2.4million are as a result of human trafficking (source: a global alliance against forced labour, International Labour Organisation, 2005)

* 600,000-800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders each year. Of those, around 80% are women and girls, with up to 50% being minors. (U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report, 2005.)

* The majority of trafficked victims arguably come from the poorest countries and poorest strata of the national problem (ILO, 2005)

So,  now we come to the response of our Coalition Government to this issue.

The Government has decided not to opt-in to draft European laws on human trafficking.

Toward the end of August a Home Office spokesperson, attempting to defend this position, said:

‘While the draft directive will help improve the way other EU states combat trafficking, it will make very little difference to the way the UK tackles the problem as there are no further operational co-operation measures which we will benefit from.

‘Opting in now would also require us to make mandatory the provisions which are currently discretionary in UK law. These steps would reduce the scope for professional discretion and flexibility and might divert already limited resources.

‘The government will review the UK’s position once the directive has been agreed, and will continue to work constructively with European partners on matters of mutual interest.

‘By not opting in now but reviewing our position when the directive is agreed, we can choose to benefit from being part of a directive that is helpful, but avoid being bound by measures that are against our interests.’

Though it leaves a slither of hope for the future, this really isn’t good enough.

This Government needs to unite with its European partners in tackling this issue, not leaving itself on the sidelines.

Hundreds of thousands of people, especially many children, are relying on us to do what is just and right.

We must not fail them.

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