UK Government signs Council of Europe trafficking convention

23 March 2007

In a welcome move, on 23 March the United Kingdom signed the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings and pledged it would ratify this crucial convention.

Anti-Slavery International, our supporters and partners have been calling on the Government to sign the Convention since it opened for signature in May 2005.

The Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott announced the Government’s intentions saying “the anniversary that we commemorate today [the abolition of the Slave Trade] lead to … greater recognition of slavery in its old and new contexts, and to redressing the evil imbalance that it continues to create… we reinforce our commitment to a future in which there can be social justice and freedom for all.”

It is vital the Government ratifies and implements the Convention as a matter of urgency, as it is the only international law that provides guaranteed minimum standards of protection for all trafficked people. This includes at least 30 days to stay in the country to receive emergency medical assistance, safe housing, legal advice and temporary residence permits for those who may be in danger if they return to their country of origin.

Current protection and support services for trafficked men, women and children are inadequate and there is no specific assistance available to those trafficked for labour exploitation.

It is equally vital the Government avoids introducing policies that increase people’s vulnerability to trafficking, such as its proposal for measures that would prevent migrant domestic workers in abusive situations from changing their employers.

To date, over 30 countries have signed the Convention, seven have ratified it. Ten ratifications are required for it to enter into force.