Quite a political slant to the news stories this month that were tracked in the LexisNexis® Human Trafficking Awareness Index™ with human trafficking featuring heavily in the coalition’s final to-do list. MailOnline noted that the annual Queen’s Speech - a speech written by the government and read by the monarch - included ‘tougher penalties for human trafficking’. The Express reported in a little more detail: ‘Human traffickers and other criminals who enslave their victims will face life in prison.’ There are plenty of serious measures in this final speech of the parliament, but these articles - and this blog - will focus specifically on The Modern Slavery Bill which was introduced in the House of Commons on 10 June 2014.
The Modern Slavery Bill
The process of introducing a Bill is outlined in a report from the UK Government News feed. Published LONDON, June 16, the article notes that ‘This Bill is expected to have its second reading debate on a date to be announced.' The Bill was presented to Parliament on 10 June 2014. This is known as the first reading and there was no debate on the Bill at this stage.
Progress of the bill can be viewed at https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2014-15/modernslavery.html.
What are the benefits of The Modern Slavery Bill?
The Bill would provide law enforcement with stronger tools to stamp out modern slavery, ensure slave drivers can receive suitably severe punishments and enhance protection of and support for victims. The Bill includes provisions to:
How did the Government respond?
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK) source feed highlighted the policy paper 'Response to pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Modern Slavery Bill':
‘Modern slavery is an appalling crime. Traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment. Organised crime groups systematically exploit large numbers of individuals by forcing and coercing them into a life of abuse and degradation. It has no place in this country today.
The Government is determined to give law enforcement the tools to stamp out modern slavery, while enhancing support for, and protection of, victims. This will be taken forward through the Modern Slavery Bill. This will be amongst the first Acts specifically tackling modern slavery in the world and reflects the Government’s determination that the UK lead the global fight against modern slavery.'
The Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group reported how Jo Cox, a charity campaigner who also happens to be Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Batley and Spen, has spoken in support of the Modern Slavery Bill. Mrs Cox, who is a senior advisor to the Freedom Fund, said: "I have met deeply traumatised Congolese and Ugandan children who as young as eight were forcibly recruited by warlords as child soldiers. … After the Home Secretary had previously refused European co-operation to stop human trafficking, the Government is right to bring forward new measures to tackle this evil.” Mrs Cox’ article in the Yorkshire Post notes that ‘There is strong cross-party support for this legislation in the UK but it will be crucial that Ministers and MPs ensure the Bill is strong enough to deal with an ever-shifting trade.'
Human trafficking and slavery in the UK
The June 2014 Human Trafficking Awareness Index for the UK stood at 157% which reflects 374 trafficking-related articles published by the British and Irish media during June 2014 compared to 329 the previous month.
The LexisNexis Human Trafficking Awareness Index™ data model highlights emerging trends and patterns of awareness within and across national borders. The Index uses the respected Nexis® service to track and analyse the volume of articles related to human trafficking. Using a licensed collection of almost 6,000 of the most influential news sources from more than 120 countries, the HTA Index highlights emerging trends and patterns of awareness within and across national borders. Activists working to combat human trafficking can use this information to highlight and raise awareness to inform their efforts and gain greater understanding of the news.