UK: Sex trafficking: Amnesty welcomes police raids in London and West Midlands, but calls for protection for trafficked victims

Reacting to the news of police raids on brothels in London and the West Midlands today (10 May), Amnesty International UK Media Director Mike Blakemore said:

“Amnesty welcomes the police crackdown on traffickers and their vicious trade in Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who are held prisoner and forced to work as prostitutes.

“But we need to know now what protection the Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights reportedly rescued from these properties are receiving.

“The fact is that currently, trafficked Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights have no guaranteed protection in the UK. The law sees them simply as illegal immigrants and British people would be appalled to know that many of them are deported to countries where they could be at serious risk of being re-trafficked.

“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 UK government must sign up to the new European Convention Against Trafficking.

“The European Convention Against Trafficking guarantees emergency housing and medical care for victims and gives them a month to recover from the trauma and make some decisions about what they need to do next.”

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 (1). Since this study was completed it is widely acknowledged that the problem of human trafficking has increased significantly. 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 (2). Victims of trafficking are tricked or violently coerced into leaving their homes.

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.

The Home Office currently funds just one care and accommodation centre for trafficked Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights - the London-based Poppy Project. The Poppy Project provides 25 bed spaces, and access criteria are narrow and dependent on Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s cooperation with investigations or prosecutions. Demand for spaces greatly exceeds supply. There is still no safe house for Children's rights that have been trafficked.

Notes

1. Kelly and Regan for the Home Office (police research series paper 125, 2000) estimates 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 1998.

2. ‘Sex in the City: Mapping Commercial Sex Across London’, Sandra Dickson, The Poppy Project 2004.

View latest press releases