New rights for human trafficking victims in UK

Smith: "Human trafficking is one of the most horrendous crimes” 9th April 2009: Newly introduced measures provide better protection and support to victims of human trafficking in the UK.

The Council of Europe Convention Against Trafficking in Human Beings, which became effective on 1st April 2009, creates minimum legal rights for victims and strengthens the UK’s ability to catch the criminals that exploit victims of trafficking.

Key new measures include: a National Referral Mechanism, providing a nationally agreed framework to help frontline staff identify victims of trafficking and offer them support; £4m over 2 years to enhance the services for victims including an expansion of accommodation and support through the criminal justice system- resulting in more traffickers being brought to justice; and granting a 45 day minimum reflection and recovery period to victims and the possibility of a one-year renewable residence permit.

The Government has also doubled funding for the UK Human Trafficking Centre to £1.7million since 2006/7.

Adopting the Convention underlines the government’s long-term commitment to tackling this horrific crime and building on the UK’s existing efforts to identify and support victims of trafficking and investigate and prosecute traffickers.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: "Human trafficking is one of the most horrendous crimes threatening our society. Those who are responsible for this modern form of slavery are profiting from human misery and suffering.

"We have reached a major milestone today in the fight against trafficking by implementing measures that help us build on our existing efforts to turn the tables on traffickers and provide victims with protection, support and a voice in the criminal justice system.

"It is vital that European member states work together to stop this awful crime and I am determined that the UK will continue to play its part by supporting victims and bringing the perpetrators to justice."

The UK ratified the Convention in December 2008.

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