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Anti Slavery Day

October 18, 2010

Today is the UK’s first Anti Slavery Day.  On Saturday I went to the Body Shop in Cabot Circus, Bristol to support their petition on sex trafficking – a 21st century form of slavery.

Back in 2007 I spoke at many events in Bristol and London when we marked the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire.  It was right that we commemorated events from 1807 but we must also remember that slavery persisted in many parts of the world for decades thereafter and indeed hidden, covert slavery has never gone away.

People trafficking is an ugly 21st century crime.  Even in Britain there are prostitutes working against their will, brought to our shores from many countries.  Some industries have illegal workers operating in shocking and dangerous conditions.  In other parts of the world child labour produces many of the cheap goods bought by some people in the developed world.

You can support the campaign to provide child trafficking victims with a guardian by visiting: http://www.thebodyshop.com/_en/_ww/values-campaigns/stop-trafficking-select-country.aspx

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 23, 2010 10:02 pm

    There’s another petition that you haven’t mentioned at http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/stop-human-trafficking

    “Dear David Cameron and Nick Clegg,

    Please guarantee the UK government opts in to the EU Directive on Human Trafficking to ensure that trafficking into and within the EU stops and that those involved are properly prosecuted.

    Please make sure that the UK opts in to new rules to help stop trafficking.”

    As Caroline Lucas MP, leader of the Green Party, says:

    “Wilberforce described slavery as ‘a disgrace and a dishonour to this country’, and I’d say exactly the same about the coalition’s decision to opt out of the EU directive on human trafficking.

    “It’s completely unacceptable that British legislation against trafficking is weaker than the rest of Europe’s. It effectively makes Britain the trafficking capital of Europe and invites this kind of systematic abuse.

    “I’ve signed this petition on behalf of the Green Party because Greens will always be on the side of people who are vulnerable, oppressed or abused. Whose side are Nick Clegg and David Cameron on?”

  2. October 24, 2010 10:11 pm

    Thanks, Stephen. I’m not sure where it’s got to now, but a web search suggests that the coalition intends to opt out of the EU Directive. No doubt ‘reasons’ would be offered to present the decision in a good light…. but then that’s what governments of all colours do!

    • October 25, 2010 5:14 pm

      Hi Pete
      As it turns out another constituent had written to me about this and I wrote to Damian Green, the Immigration Minister. He tells me that the EU Directive is still at the draft stage. The main reason the govt indicated in June it would not sign up was that UK law already covers the main points in the Directive. The UK is also also already in the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings. This commits the UK to not prosecuting crimes committed by people who are the victims of trafficking as they were being coerced.

      Damian states that once the new Directive is finalised and implemented the UK will review the position and could sign at a later date.

      I guess this amounts to an assertion that the UK already has robust law in this area and the Directive is more likely to be relevant to EU member states that do not.
      Hope this is helpful.

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