Rebecca Erskine is an Executive Assistant at the World Mission Council. She also sits on the Action Of Churches Together in Scotland- Anti Human Trafficking Group. Here she shares her thoughts on International Modern Slavery Day.
There aren’t many certainties surrounding Brexit at the moment, but one thing we know for sure is that it will affect many elements of British life.
There is one Brexit-related uncertainty that hasn’t yet made the news. Have you ever considered how it might affect Human Trafficking?
It is imperative that our leaders are reminded of the importance of providing adequate legal protection for victims of human trafficking throughout Brexit negotiations. Trafficking victims found in the UK can currently rely on EU Law for legal protection. After Brexit negotiations are completed, victims will have to rely on UK Domestic Law alone. Many lawyers have expressed concern about the level of safeguarding that the UK’s Modern Slavery Act (2015) provides for victims, stating that it offers inadequate protection, and is vastly underdeveloped compared to the EU Law.
We cannot afford to let this issue slide off the radar of our leaders. The European Union provides access to the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive, as well as Europol (the EU’s law enforcement agency), Euro Just and other European justice tools. Negotiators will need to find viable alternatives, or ensure that there is still some form of access to this justice system.
The uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and the present lack of a robust alternative to EU justice systems, also offers a window of opportunity for traffickers to exploit and enslave more and more vulnerable people.
Sadly, trafficking is getting worse, with figures from the National Crime Agency stating that the number of victims recorded has nearly tripled in the last three years. There are a number of reasons why this is happening, such as the increased movement of people because of conflict and disaster. Ensuring that, after Brexit, there is a robust justice system for victims of trafficking, and modern slavery, is vital.
The World Mission Council is concerned; partners in numerous places are working towards bringing an end to human trafficking in their own countries, and it is important that we have the capacity in our own country to break the cycle of trafficking. The Church is represented on the Cross Party Parliamentary Group for Human Trafficking, and on the Action of Churches Together Anti-Human Trafficking Group. Both groups are working to ensure that new policies and victim protection are a high priority in Brexit negotiations, and World Mission is ensuring that our partner’s voices are heard as they too seek to help victims on a governmental and pastoral level.
What can you do?
- Please pray for strengthened law and policy development to help protect victims of human trafficking in the UK.
- Have a read at World Mission’s Report on Anti-Human Trafficking, or read about our scriptural call to fight this injustice through our bible study guides.
- Know the signs and know who to contact; have a read of the ACTS advice leaflet so you can be prepared.