Supporting victims of trafficking
Politicians from Northern Ireland and Scotland came together on 29 April to discuss how best to support victims of trafficking to rebuild their lives.
The event, hosted by Law Centre (NI), heard about plans in Northern Ireland to ensure that support for victims is put on a firm statutory footing and also heard from Jenny Marra, Labour MSP for North East Scotland (centre in photo above), about how Scotland plans to have a 'survivors service' for victims of trafficking.
Speaking at the event, Justice Minister, David Ford (above left), said, 'the Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that that victims of trafficking get the right support to help them recover from this heinous crime. Putting victims at the heart of the efforts to tackle trafficking should be our driving focus.'
Lord Morrow MLA, whose private member's Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill is before the Assembly, commented, 'one of the innovations of this bill is that it would ensure that victims' entitlement to support would be clearly enshrined in law. I welcome the opportunity to hear from Scotland about its plans to also ensure support for victims through legislation.'
Jenny Marra said 'the Scottish Government has given a commitment to legislate to combat trafficking.' Outlining proposals for a survivor's service, she stressed that the needs of survivors are paramount. 'I believe that trafficking victims deserve a legal right to support so that they can rebuild their lives from the human rights abuse that is trafficking. One of the key tasks of the proposed survivor's service should be to ensure that everyone who is identified as a potential victim of trafficking gets a co-ordinated assistance package.'
Les Allamby (above right), Director of the Law Centre, added: 'We provide legal advice and representation to victims of trafficking in Northern Ireland. Our experience of working with victims highlights the importance of the right support at the right time. Today's meeting is an opportunity to share ideas and innovations that will mean that those who have been caught in the trafficking net can effectively be supported to recover and hopefully move on to a new stage in their lives.'