Human trafficking legislation must put victims at its core
The Law Society of Scotland has welcomed proposals for new legislation to tackle human trafficking but believes more protections are needed for victims.
Alan McCreadie, deputy director of Law Reform at the Law Society, said: “Human trafficking is an appalling crime and it is absolutely right that the Scottish Government works to prevent human trafficking and exploitation in Scotland.
“Trafficking human beings for exploitation is complex and multi- faceted, often involving cross-border movement of people, and we welcome the commitment to work in partnership with other agencies at international and UK level to make Scotland a hostile place for traffickers.
“It’s also important that we can identify victims of this kind of crime and ensure that they get proper support.”
The Society believes that the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill should set out clear obligations for local authorities on the support and assistance they should provide for adult and child victims of human trafficking and slavery.
McCreadie said: “Human trafficking is not solely confined to criminal law and,on the basis of the policy intent behind the bill and that the Scottish Government favours a victim-centred approach, we think that more consideration is needed on the specific support that should be available for victims, beyond the duties on Scottish Ministers already included in the bill.
“While we welcome the creation of a single offence of human trafficking for all forms of exploitation, there should also be sufficient flexibility and prosecutorial discretion.
“We believe a statutory defence should be available for a person who has committed an offence as a direct consequence of having been trafficked, which would be in addition to the bill’s proposal for a requirement on the Lord Advocate to publish guidelines on prosecuting victims of human trafficking offences.”
The Law Society submitted its written evidence on the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee. It is available to read in full on the website. The Law Society has been invited to give oral evidence to the Justice Committee on 24 March 2015.