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UK: Leading UK charities call on UK government to sign up to new anti-trafficking convention

Trafficking of men, Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights into the UK for sexual exploitation, and for other forms of forced labour including domestic slavery, agricultural work, packing and construction is a significant problem in the UK.

Although trafficking for sexual and labour exploitation are criminal offences in the UK, the government has failed to develop comprehensive measures to protect and support people who have been trafficked into the country.

Signing up to the European Convention, the first ever international law specifically for protecting trafficked people's rights, will help guarantee this vital protection.

Home Office research estimated that:

  • up to 1,420 Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights were trafficked into the UK for sexual exploitation in 2000.
  • 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.
  • According to ECPAT UK research in 2004, social services in 32 out of 33 London Boroughs are concerned about trafficked Children's rights within their care.

Victims of trafficking are tricked or violently coerced into leaving their homes. Maria, a Ukrainian woman, left her country to work in Italy to raise money for her daughter’s education.

When her visa ran out she met a man in Italy who said that he could arrange work for her in the UK. She entered the UK with him, but once she arrived here she was beaten, raped and forced into prostitution.

She was sold three times while in the UK and was made to work in various parts of London.

The new 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.

Currently the only support that exists in the UK is available only to Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights trafficked into prostitution and prostituted in the UK.

The Home Office funds the London-based Poppy Project, but only for 25 places, with access provided under narrow criteria and dependent on the woman’s agreeing to co-operate in an investigation or prosecution; demand for spaces exceeds supply.

There is still no safe house for Children's rights that have been trafficked.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

"The trafficking industry brutalises people and destroys lives all over Europe on a daily basis. Victims of trafficking have had all of their very basic human rights violated – we must turn the system around so that they are recognised as the victims and not the perpetrators of crime.

"The European Convention is an opportunity to protect these people. The UK government must sign up to the new Convention."

Mary Cunneen, Director of Anti-Slavery International and member of the European Union’s Experts Group on Trafficking said:

"We welcome this new Convention, which provides minimum standards to protect trafficked people’s rights. Anti-Slavery International urges all members of the Council of Europe to take immediate steps to ratify this important Convention."

David Bull, Executive Director of UNICEF UK said:

"Trafficked Children's rights are abused, raped and exploited right here in the UK, yet there is still no safe house providing specialist care and protection for Children's rights. Without this special protection Children's rights remain at risk even whilst in the care of social service departments. They live in constant fear, under threat of harm to themselves and their families, and need unconditional round-the-clock care and support, which (to our disgrace) is not currently available in the UK.

"The Council of Europe’s Convention Against Trafficking would oblige the UK to meet minimum binding standards for the protection and support of trafficked people. We should be the first to sign up!"

Barbara Gill, Chairman of the National Federation of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s Institutes, said:

"Our members believe the trafficking of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights is a crime against humanity and decisive action needs to be taken now. In this day and age, it is horrifying and unacceptable that Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are being brought into the UK to be beaten, raped, and forced into prostitution.

"The National Federation of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s Institutes calls upon all European states including the UK, to give their full support to this Convention and put in place the necessary measures to support, protect and respect the human rights of victims of trafficking."

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