Scotland: Human Trafficking Report

John Downes's picture

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published its findings from its Inquiry into Human Trafficking in Scotland. The Commission inquired into the nature and extent of human trafficking in Scotland. It focused on trafficking for the purposes of forced labour, domestic servitude and criminal exploitation, but more explicitly on commercial sexual exploitation, which Baroness Kennedy QC called ‘the most prevalent and pernicious manifestation of human enslavement’.

The Commission has made ten recommendations designed to improve responses to human trafficking, put victims’ needs at the centre of the issue and make Scotland a more hostile environment for traffickers.

The report found that:

  • Human trafficking is a serious violation of human rights, and a modern form of slavery. It feeds on poverty and inequality, and it is a crime.
  • Human trafficking exists throughout Scotland, with victims found not only in the sex industry, but in hotels, restaurants, farms and domestic homes.
  • Human trafficking in Scotland arises from the exploitation of vulnerable victims, demand for cheap labour, and profit-driven organised crime.
  • There is little public or professional awareness of trafficking and insufficient cooperation by agencies, leading to an intelligence gap on traffickers.

Scotland has made some progress on tackling trafficking but lacks a comprehensive strategy to effectively deal with this crime. The Commission of Inquiry recommends that:

  • Scotland should pioneer a strategic, victim centred approach to trafficking, focussing on human rights and crime prevention. This should be in place before the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.
  • Scotland needs to raise awareness of trafficking issues so that individuals and agencies know what trafficking looks like, where it happens, and what to do about it.
  • Agencies must share information more systematically to improve performance on gathering intelligence, successful prosecutions, and supporting victims.
  • There is a case for a new Human Trafficking Act, which would address the crime of trafficking directly, and which would enable more prosecutions of traffickers.
  • Scotland needs end-to-end services for victims, with practical assistance accessible wherever a victim is found.

The Scottish Government has welcomed the report and pledged to act on its recommendations with the development of a zero-tolerance attitude to human-trafficking.

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