Consultation Response Human Trafficking in Northern Ireland
Amendments to UK legislation to comply with EU Directive 2011/36/EU And How the Department of Justice currently engages with nongovernment and other organisations.
Evangelical Alliance Better Together
The Evangelical Alliance, formed in 1846, is the largest body serving the two million evangelical Christians in the UK. We have a membership of denominations, churches, organisations and individuals. In the UK we work across 79 denominations, 3,300 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. We are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. Our Northern Ireland office was established in 1987 and for the last 25 years we have been contributing to public life here. Our mission is to unite evangelicals to present Christ credibly as good news for spiritual and social transformation. Our 2 main objectives are bringing Christians together â€“ Unity- and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society - Advocacy.
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Summary of Recommendations Human trafficking doesn’t happen in a vacuum - People don’t wake up and arbitrarily decide to traffick someone or to use a trafficked person. To combat this organised crime effectively we need to look at how we value people, freedom, sexuality and community. When people and sex are commoditised the intrinsic value and respect for that person is lost. In communities where we don’t know our neighbours strangers can come and go unnoticed and unchallenged. To bring about lasting change, we need to challenge the prevailing culture which allows and facilitates trafficking to flourish. We believe that there is hope and that Northern Ireland could lead the way in the fight against human trafficking. In terms of policy and practice we would like to see:- A regular interactive forum for NGOs, Government and PSNI (see 3.1) - Country-wide multi-media campaign designed to raise awareness and reduce demand. - Coordination mechanism across Departments in the delivery of services, for example awareness campaigns organised between Departments of Justice, Social Development, Health and Education. - More training for those on the front line to identify trafficked victims (PSNI, Woman’s Aid, Immigration groups, Victim Support, CAB, solicitors, airports and ferry ports staff) in line with the Directive. -Development of a Gold standard mark, similar to Fair Trade, where companies and bodies who comply with training and ethical practice can receive accreditation. - Clear sentencing guidelines from the PPS for trafficking offences and related criminality particularly concerning aggravating factors in line with s.12 of the Directive. - More North/South co-operation between the respective boarder agencies, NGO’s, PSNI/Gardai and political representatives to deal with the trafficking of people across the boarder. We have identified the haulage industry as potential partners in the sharing of awareness and information on a Europe-wide level. - Special status for victims of trafficking once identified similar to those who have experienced domestic abuse and rape. Trafficked victims are often the most vulnerable in society –enslaved, abused, unemployed, homeless, potentially foreign Nationals, perhaps minors, often with no family support. We would also recommend accelerated casehandling for victims and a ‘one-stop-shop’ point of contact or a ‘pastoral carer’ of sorts to help and guide them through the legal and social care systems. - Discretion for the Judiciary to extend the 45 day reflection period. - Mandatory prison sentences for trafficking offences including users of trafficked victims. (see points 1&4). - More public dialogue and research into the broader issues often connected to human trafficking like prostitution, drugs, abuse, pornography and promiscuity. - Compulsory education in schools on human trafficking and the wider issues outlined
1. In relation to Directive 2011/36/EU, the proposed amendments are mandatory for the UK to be compliant . We welcome the 2 new trafficking offences that the Directive will create to tackle human trafficking within the UK and internationally. However we want to see more innovative and progressive legislation for Northern Ireland. Rather than catching up with implementation we want to lead the way in the legislative fight against trafficking. For example, it is proposed that where a person is found guilty of the new offence to be amended within Section 4 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004, “they are liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both.” Trafficking is part of the slave ‘trade’ that contravenes Article 4 of the ECHR on slavery and forced labour. Where someone is convicted of a trafficking offence, that is facilitating slavery, they should do so at a risk to their own freedom. A fine is neither appropriate nor adequate, trafficking offences should warrant a mandatory prison sentence. This should apply to offences connected with ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ and we will return to this at point 4. Human trafficking won’t be defeated by legislation alone but the principle of prison for convicted traffickers and users of trafficked victims provides a consistent and firm policy framework for dealing with the supply and demand of the trafficking ‘trade’.
2. We seek specific confirmation of any remaining parts of this Directive which Northern Ireland has yet to implement.
3. The Department of Justice is inviting comments on how they engage with Non-government and other organisations (NGOs). To quote section 6 of the directive, “Member States should encourage and work closely with civil society organisations, including recognised and active non-governmental organisations in this field working with trafficked persons, in particular in policy making initiatives, information and awareness campaigns, research and education programmes and in training, as well as in monitoring and evaluating the impact of antitrafficking measures.” Again we welcome this consultation and the fact that the Department is beginning to implement section 6 of the Directive. We would welcome a close working relationship between Government and civil society organisations. Government, the PSNI, the legal system, NGO’s and the general public all have a vital role to play in combating human trafficking in Northern Ireland. We need to work together in:-
Policy-making initiatives to tackle the ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ sides of the issue.
Information and awareness campaigns
Research and education
Monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of measures
Prioritising victim care and restoration.
NGOs bring a wealth of experience, local insight and volunteers which are essential to success in each of the above priorities.
3.1 A Forum between NGOs, DOJ and PSNI In order to combat trafficking effectively it is essential that there is a place where information, skills and best practice can be shared easily between NGO’s, Government and the PSNI. We are proposing a forum consisting of DOJ officials, PSNI representatives, NGO representatives and members of the All Party Group. The sharing of information, resources and local knowledge is crucial between all of these different bodies. A forum would allow information to pass horizontally and vertically between NGO’s, the PSNI and Government. The real value of the forum is in providing a place to share good practice, join up the dots, identify gaps in information and resources and then to fill in those gaps. Some members of the forum will be activists and some will be more centred towards policy. Activities happening on the ground need to be fed up to a policy level so that good practice and effective responses can be identified and rolled out on a wider scale. Similarly policy needs to be implemented at grass roots level and NGO participation is essential for delivery and so that effectiveness can be measured. We would suggest that this forum meet quarterly. We would recommend that the forum broadly discuss the issues of raising awareness, research and training, legislation, prosecutions, demand and victims. We would suggest that one or 2 members of each group be represented on the forum to feed information in and take information back out to their own groups. It may be that steering groups could be developed in local areas similar to that piloted by the Craigavon ACT group, however a centralised group is essential to share information on a province-wide level. It may also be useful to have input from DSD, DHSSPS, the border agency and representatives from the Republic of Ireland, UK and EU on a regular basis.
3.2 A Christian Network A very significant number of the NGO’s and grassroots campaigners are motivated by their Christian beliefs around people, freedom, sexuality and justice. We have established a network of Christian individuals from across the various NGO’s who work in this area. The idea is that we can share prayer, information and resources to better equip churches and
community groups in their response to trafficking. We would recommend regular engagement with this Christian network and the wider faith community on this issue.
4. Tackling demand for sex trafficking Our research in this area has brought us to the conclusion that there is a clear need to specifically tackle the demand for sex-trafficking in Northern Ireland. We believe that a shift in public policy and public perception is required. Please see attached our briefing note which explains our recommendation around tackling demand for sex trafficking.
Conclusion Engagement from the Department of Justice to date has been encouraging and is to be commended. However we are calling for brave new steps far beyond a bare-boned implementation of the EU Directive. We look forward to seeing and shaping policies that are innovative and rigorous. We want Northern Ireland to be a world-leading cold house for traffickers and a place of refuge and restoration for victims.
For further information please contact: David Smyth Public Policy Officer Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 028 9029 2266 Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland Downview House, 440 Shore Road Newtownabbey, BT37 9RU www.eauk.org/northern-ireland