Troubled youth

Modern Slavery Bill must focus on victims, say MPs

By: Information Daily Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 08:46 GMT Jump to Comments

Victims of trafficking must become the focus of anti-slavery legislation in the UK, a cross-party committee of MPs have said.

The government's Modern Slavery Bill, published in November, is to be applauded, says the Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill, comprised of MPs and peers from the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

The MPs add, however, that the bill must find a new focus on protecting the victims of trafficking, particularly vulnerable children. They reiterate the importance of the four Ps: protection, prevention, prosecution and partnership.

Submitting their Draft Modern Slavery Bill Report, the MPs and peers recommend that trafficking charges be simplified to ensure more convictions, that victim care principles are made obligatory, and that crimes against children are treated and convicted with special care.

Victims should be exempt from prosecution for crimes committed while enslaved, the MPs add, and the UK must ensure that products and services sold in the UK are free from links to slavery.

They warn that the domestic worker's visa has, albeit unintentionally, benefitted traffickers.

The government has proposed a maximum life prison sentence for traffickers, which would dwarf the maximum of 14 years currently available.

An anti-slavery commissioner is also to be appointed, a position the committee insists must remain independent.

Labour MP Frank Field, chair of the committee, said: "The shift to the focus on victims is not only the morally right thing to do in and of itself, it is essential if we are to get the prosecutions necessary to try to end this evil.

"The world is watching: we have to get this right".

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