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Draft Slavery Bill targets human traffickers

20 December 2013

By a staff reporter


Suspects: the entrance to Northwood Park Travellers' site, near Bristol, one of three sites raided to police a fortnight ago, as part of Operation Wanderer, an investigation into forced labout and human trafficking 

Suspects: the entrance to Northwood Park Travellers' site, near Bristol, one of three sites raided to police a fortnight ago, as part of Operation W...

THE draft Modern Slavery Bill unveiled by the Government this week introduces maximum life sentences for human traffickers for the first time, and would create a new post of anti-slavery commissioner.

The draft Bill was published on the same day as a report into modern-day slavery by the Labour MP Frank Field, who was commissioned by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to examine modern slavery in the UK. Mr Field published his findings on Monday, estimating that there were 10,000 slaves in the UK.

Mr Field said that the report had been "shaped by the evidence we received from victims of modern slavery. The Home Secretary, by establishing this Review, has shown that her draft Bill will be informed by our recommendations, and signals how serious her intent is."

Mr Field's report calls for better protection for victims; a new, distinct child-trafficking offence; seizure of the profits made by traffickers; and a new measure to force multi-nationals to disclose what they are doing to eradicate slavery from their supply chains.

Other suggestions include the creation of a guardianship scheme to look after child victims of trafficking, a measure that was backed by the Children's Society. Its chief executive, Matthew Reed, said: "Without guardianship being included in the Bill, trafficked children will not get the help they need."

The Christian charity Care also called for a system of guardians for trafficked children. It said that, of the 942 trafficked children rescued between 2005 and 2010, 301 later went missing from local-authority care. "Without child-trafficking guardians in place, the expectation, shared by Care, is that large numbers of children will continue to be re-trafficked," the charity said.

The chief executive officer of the anti-trafficking group Hope for Justice, Ben Cooley, said: "The Modern Slavery Bill is a strong signal to traffickers that we won't tolerate their terrible trade in human lives. Today, we must also be the voice of victims; so we're calling on the Church to help make sure that victim protection is at the heart the final Bill."

Pope Francis this week denounced human trafficking. In comments to ambassadors at the Vatican, he said: "Human trafficking is a crime against humanity. We must unite our efforts to free victims and stop this crime . . . that threatens not just individuals, but the foundational values of society."

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