New Legislation in Scotland: The Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill (Scotland)

The Scottish Government introduced this Bill in December 2014.  It is now in its final stage on its journey through the Scottish Parliament. It will introduce a specific law to combat human trafficking and exploitation for the very first time in Scotland.
The Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill will clarify and strengthen criminal law by introducing a new single human trafficking offence and increasing the maximum penalty for offenders to life imprisonment.
The proposals are designed to give Scotland’s law enforcement agencies greater tools in their armoury to bring those responsible for human trafficking and exploitation to justice as well as guaranteeing victims support.
It will mean that, for the very first time, there will be legislation in Scotland focusing specifically on human trafficking and exploitation through slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour.  Previously, criminal law against trafficking was spread across different legislation.  For the first time, the Bill will create a new single offence of trafficking for all forms of exploitation for both adults and children and those who seek to exploit others, with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
When passed, the Bill will also:
• give adult victims of trafficking equivalent rights to access immediate support and assistance as child victims already have;
• ensure guidance for prosecutors in dealing with the victims of trafficking and exploitation who are forced to commit crime as a direct result of their victim status; and
• require Scottish Ministers to work with other bodies to publish and keep under review a Scottish Anti-Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy.
The proposals are designed to give Scotland’s law enforcement agencies greater tools in their armoury to bring those responsible for human trafficking and exploitation to justice, as well as providing greater support to victims.
“We know that legislation alone will not help to identify potential victims. That’s why we’re combining legislative action through this Bill with the development and implementation of a Human Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy – building on the work already undertaken to increase public awareness, training for front-line staff and engagement with businesses to help spot the signs of potential trafficking and exploitation.
“Ultimately, this is taking tough action to crack down on those who think they can commit human trafficking, exploit individuals, and better protect and support both adult and child victims.”
As the Bill is now at the Amendment stage there are moves to get the government to strengthen the legislation to more fully protect children by updating the offence of slavery to reflect and acknowledge the specific vulnerability of children. This would include recognising the victim in forced criminality and forced begging situations.

Anti trafficking leaflet for distribution
A leaflet is being produced by TRAC, an inter-congregational group. Sisters in all the associated congregations living in the UK will be asked to help distribute the leaflets by leaving them about on public transport etc.

European Day on Anti Trafficking
18th October is The European Day on Anti Trafficking. It is also known as Bakita Day. St Bakita was a trafficked person for a number of years before gaining her freedom and becoming a Religious.

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