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« Matthew Dear: Business tax credits | Main | 100policies is back! »


Adrian Owens

Good to see 100policies back.

I agree with all the points Andrew makes, except I'm unsure of the need to sign the European convention. This risks muddling our message, when we are sceptical of other European conventions.

Better to deal with the scandal of human trafficking ourselves and lead others by example. After all, Wilberforce and Britain took a lead 200 years ago.

Amber Rudd

I am so pleased to see this issue raised. I have been discussing with a friend at Amnesty how to raise Conservative support and awareness and am keen to help to lobby to get it signed.

30 other countries have signed it and we continue to leave these vicitims of trafficing unprotected while the Government refuses to sign.

I'm going to take it further with Amnesty and will let you know how I get on.

Angelo Basu

Would it not be possible just to amend UK law to give victims the additional protection that the Convention stipulates (or indeed more if justified)? If so, there seems to be little benefit in making it look as if we are merely implementing an international agreement rather than independently deciding that something needs to be done by us.

Mark Wadsworth

Glad to see 100 Policies back.

This sort of proposal sounds fine in principle but is it not already covered by existing UK laws?


An excellent idea. I am surprised and disappointed we haven't already signed up.

For anyone interested in the subject of human trafficking I recommend Lukas Moodysson's excellent film "Lilya 4 Ever" with the delightful Oksana Akinshina. Be warned though, it's very gritty and not for the emotionally faint-hearted.

Jack Bains

Good to see the 100 policies back - but I hope that we are not going to settle for safe policy proposals. Lets see some real meaty ideas put forward.

Yes to this one though.

Andrew Gilbert

Thank you to everyone who has commented so far. I thought it might be helpful to respond to some of the points raised.

Angelo Basu asked if we can simply amend UK law to give victims equivalent protections to those prescribed in the convention. The answer is that there is nothing to stop the UK doing so. It needs to be borne in mind though that the convention deals with more than just victims' rights. It also covers measures to prevent trafficking and reduce demand, stipulations regarding substantive anti-trafficking law (the UK has already complied with this), investigation of trafficking crimes etc. There are also other provisions where the UK is leading the way in Europe, e.g. we recently set up the UK Human Trafficking Centre (ukhtc.org) which is the first of its kind in Europe.

Most of the convention's provision are too broad to be translated directly into domestic legislation but it does provide a sort of 'off the shelf' raft of anti-trafficking measures. Even if we did ratify we would still need some Westminster legislation to implement it and/or changes in official circulars etc. It makes a lot of sense to sign and implement it (and I believe it is possible to do so and ensure that we minimise the effects of any potential immigration 'pull factor'), but what should most concern us I suggest is that the UK is actually coming down hard on traffickers and providing appropriate support for victims whether that is under a convention or not.

Mark Wadsworth asked if these matters are already covered by existing UK laws. The short answer is no. We have law creating the criminal offences of trafficking for sexual exploitation (2003 Act) and trafficking for other purposes (2004 Act). Those Acts simply detail the criminal offences. There is no other primary or secondary legislation dealing with human trafficking and the status of victims etc. (Unless the victim is in the UK illegally, in which case they might be dealt with under general immigration law. There are currently no special provisions for trafficking victims in immigration law.)

By the way, if you are keen enough to want to have a look at the convention for yourself then you can find it at:


The Commonwealthsman

Ratification of the Convention would demonstrate our continuing national committment to the twin causes of liberty and social justice which have defined our people for so long.

As Simon Schama has said, if Britain is to have a distinctive future in the modern age, “It had better keep faith with the best traditions in its long history, a history that tied together social justice with bloody-minded liberty." If this is true then ratification of the treaty is an imperative.

Amber Rudd

I had a substantial conversation with Amnesty about the Government's obstinate reluctance to sign this. They are unclear why they are holding out, having got them to agree that "backdoor immigration" was not a good reason and nor was their alternative "special project" route a viable alternative. There is a view that they could be literally holding out so that they can announce agreeing to it in March next year, which is the 200th anniversary of Wilberforce's successful abolitionist campaign. A very cynical ploy if true. The UK remains the number one European country for trafficking. We need to lobby hard to get the Government to focus on this and do it now.

Andrew Gilbert

Amber, thank you for your last post. I agree that we need to continue to lobby hard regarding this matter. I had not previously heard the theory about the 200th anniversary announcement - if true, cynical indeed. In the meantime there is a great opportunity to fill the government's silence with a clear commitment from the Conservative party that trafficking victims should/will be accorded protection in UK law at least equivalent to the Convention standards.

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