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UK: Amnesty International applauds UK Government decision to sign up to European Convention Against Trafficking

Reacting to the news that the UK Government is to sign up to the European Convention Against Trafficking today (23 March), Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Tim Hancock said:

“Amnesty International applauds the UK Government’s signature of the European Convention Against Trafficking. Today is a great step on the road to eradicating trafficking in Britain.

“Trafficking in people is a vicious and well organised crime which is causing untold human misery around the world and right here in the UK.

“Signing the European Convention will help ensure that victims of this pernicious trade in people receive some protection when they escape their ordeal in the UK.

“It should end the situation of victims being criminalised and facing possible immigration detention and deportation, instead of receiving the support they need.

“Amnesty International recommends that when the Government implements the Convention, it does so quickly and includes the following victim support measures:

  • a 90 day ‘reflection period’ for victims;
  • residence permits which are not conditional on agreeing to help the police;
  • ensure no victim faces any criminal penalty because of what has happened to them;
  • take advice from organisations with a track record on working with victims of violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and child protection.
  • “The experience of other European countries has shown that guaranteeing secure protection to those who have been trafficked, as well as being the right thing to do, gives the best chance of stopping the traffickers and bringing them to justice.”

    Amnesty International hopes the UK Government will ratify and implement the provisions of the European Convention Against Trafficking without delay.

    Tim Hancock concluded:

    “It is very fitting that the Government is making these moves to eradicate people trafficking as Britain commemorates the bicentenary if the abolition of the slave trade in Britain. Trafficking is truly a modern day slave trade, and we need an abolitionist movement today as we did two centuries ago.”


    Home Office research due to be published this year suggests that at any one time during 2003 there were in the region of 4,000 victims of trafficking for forced prostitution in the UK (1). Trafficked Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls, from countries including Moldova, Romania, Albania, Thailand and Nigeria have been forced to work as prostitutes in London. Victims of trafficking are tricked or violently coerced into leaving their homes.

    Unicef believes that there are at least 5,000 child sex workers in the UK many of whom will have been trafficked. There are no reliable statistics on trafficking for labour exploitation. However research by the Trades Union Congress and Anti-Slavery International has found evidence of trafficking for labour exploitation in the agricultural, catering, construction, food packaging and processing, hotel, textiles, cleaning and domestic work sectors. Amnesty International is aware several cases of young Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in domestic servitude who have also been subjected to sexual violence and/or sexual exploitation.

    The European Convention Against Trafficking guarantees trafficked people:

  • a breathing period (‘reflection period’) of at least 30 days during which they can receive support to aid their recovery, including safe housing and emergency medical support;
  • temporary residence permits for trafficked people who may be in danger if they return to their country, and/or if it is necessary to assist criminal proceedings.
  • Find out more about our campaign on trafficking

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