OUR SEX SLAVES SHAME; Human Trafficking Victims Let Down by Law, Reveals Inquiry THE SLAVE TRADE SCANDAL OF HOW SCOTLAND FAILS VICTIMS

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), November 28, 2011 | Go to article overview

OUR SEX SLAVES SHAME; Human Trafficking Victims Let Down by Law, Reveals Inquiry THE SLAVE TRADE SCANDAL OF HOW SCOTLAND FAILS VICTIMS


Byline: Kevan Christie

SCOTLAND'S failure to tackle the scandal of sex trafficking is exposed in a damning report today.

The report demands a crackdown on the organised crime gangs behind the vile trade and TURN TO PAGE 4

STOP THE TRAFFIC Demand for action to beat organised gangs From Page One lifts the lid on how the victims of trafficking and exploitation have been let down.

Leading human rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy, who wrote the report for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, is critical of the Scottish government, the police and other law enforcement agencies.

The report looks into all aspects of human trafficking but focuses explicitly on "commercial sexual exploitation".

A source close to the inquiry said last night: "This is Scotland's dirty little secret."

The report criticises the shortfall in public or professional awareness in Scotland of human trafficking and says police have a "significant" intelligence gap on the problem.

ABUSED It reveals those who are trafficked are being exploited by organised criminals, often held captive in private flats used as brothels and systematically abused.

Other victims are forced into criminal acts such as benefits fraud or cannabis cultivation, exploited on fruit-picking farms or in the hospitality industry or forced into conditions akin to slavery as domestic servants.

The report's 10 recommendations include the establishment of a task force to take on the gangs behind the misery.

And it also calls for laws to be beefed up to punish the criminals heavily when they are caught.

The source said: "The Scottish government and police have not taken the proper steps to combat human trafficking. The problem exists all over Scotland and is not confined to the sex industry.

"People are being shipped in from all over the world to be used as cheap labour and serious gangsters are behind it.

"We've had prostitutes coming from as far away as Brazil, Nigeria and Bolivia to work in Scottish cities and police don't do anything.

"The recommendations made in the report need to be followed up urgently."

The inquiry's findings and mmendations are based recommendations on written evidence and face-to-face interviews and include statements from victims of trafficking.

Glasgow-born Baroness Kennedy described the nature and extent of human trafficking in Scotland as "a human rights abuse of terrible consequences".

She said: "Human trafficking is one of those pressing contemporary issues which speaks to the societies nature of our societies. It tests the value we attach to the humanity of others.

"That is why it is so important to develop effective strategies to combat trafficking. It speaks to who we are as a people. Confronting it involves collaboration."

She added: "I am hoping Scotland will pioneer a zerotolerance approach, leading the way with new strategies, legislation, and the kinds of multi-agency cooperation that enables the punishment of the traffickers and the identification and recovery of the victims."

Last month, in the first case of its kind in Scotland, Stephen Craig, 34, from Clydebank, was jailed for three years and four months for controlling prostitutes.

His co-accused, Sarah Beukan, 22, from Leith in Edinburgh, was jailed for 18 months.

They were the first people to be convicted in Scotland under new laws covering trafficking within the UK.

The pair admitted moving 14 people to addresses in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and Newcastle to work as prostitutes.

Equality and Human Rights Scotland Commissioner Kaliani Lyle said: "Trafficking is one of the most severe human rights abuses in the modern world.

"It operates below the radar and is kept there through fear and deception. Our challenge is to rid Scotland of this modern slavery. …

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