The European convention against trafficking

The UK Government has acted to prosecute traffickers and criminalise all forms of trafficking – in the Sexual Offences Act 2004 and the Immigration and Asylum Act 2004. But cracking down on the people traders is only one half of the answer – the UK should also guarantee victims’ rights are protected.

The current lack of automatic protection for those who escape from trafficking in the UK compounds the abuse that many have already suffered. Many victims are removed from the UK as illegal entrants without any assessment of what risk they may return to (and without any prospects of their traffickers being held to account).

The European Convention Against Trafficking was drawn up by the 46-member Council of Europe based in Strasbourg. It guarantees trafficked people:

  • A breathing period (or 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

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