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Sex trafficking: ending the cycle of violence in Northern Ireland

After a successful brothel raid by the PSNI in south Belfast at the end of last week, Amnesty generated a flurry of media interest in our campaign to secure protection for the rescued victims of human trafficking.

We remain concerned that there remain many undiscovered victims of trafficking throughout Northern Ireland and that many victims of trafficking here are not being properly identified. It was only a couple of years ago that the PSNI told me that they did not believe that human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation was a problem in Northern Ireland.

Fionna took to the airwaves this morning on "the biggest show in the country", the Stephen Nolan show to make the case that trafficking victims should not be prosecuted for crimes, such as using false travel documents, or sent for deportation back to their country of origin, where they risk being recycled back into the hands of traffickers. Catch her interview, about 19 minutes in, here.

Among other changes to policy and practice, we are calling for dedicated women's refuge places for the rescued victims of trafficking to be given accommodation and a chance to rebuild their lives. Following an announcement by the Welsh Assembly Government during the summer, Northern Ireland looks set to be one of the regions of the UK without any such provision. Callers to the programme (some of them, at least) backed our call.

UPDATE: While a few of this morning's newspapers are focusing on a "verbal gaffe" by Nolan during his interview with Fionna, the main editorial in the Irish News (subs today) – Traffficking is a truly vile trade – rightly puts the spotlight where it belongs. Quoting Amnesty, the paper reflects on the human misery at the heart of this 'business', with it's sign-off line accurately echoing one of our own concerns:

"if women are afraid to come forward to police for fear of being deported or attacked, then the traffickers and criminals are able to get away with their despicable crimes."

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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