Thousands of human beings are trafficked to the United Kingdom each year from Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and the former Soviet Republics. They are coerced, deceived and forced through the threat or use of violence into sexual exploitation and forced labour, including domestic servitude, agricultural and manufacturing work. We are particularly concerned about the welfare of children and women trafficked for sexual exploitation. These crimes are an offence to the dignity and integrity of human beings.
Trafficking for sexual and labour exploitation is already a criminal offence in the UK, but measures to protect and support the victims of trafficking still remain inadequate. Trafficked people are often treated as illegal immigrants, rather than victims of an evil trade in human suffering.
We welcome the Government’s launch of a public consultation on its national action plan against trafficking and its continued commitment to fighting trafficking. The final national plan needs to include both law enforcement as well as measures to protect the human rights of the victims of trafficking.
In view of the inadequacy of current UK legislation, we urgently ask the Government to sign and implement the Council of Europe’s Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, this being the only international law that provides minimum standards of victim protection, support and redress.
The upholding of the dignity and human rights of the person and maintaining the integrity of the family have always to be central to the formulation of anti-trafficking policies.