May 26 2010

Representing victims of trafficking in Scotland

The Equal Opportunities Committee of the Scottish Parliament is carrying out an inquiry into migration and trafficking in Scotland. Giving evidence to its meeting of 18 May, the Ethnic Minorities Law Centre said “We are aware that it is extremely difficult for those that are trafficked to come forward to get legal advice regarding their position, given their vulnerability, fear and concerns for their own and, sometimes family member’s, safety … Extreme sensitivity and awareness is needed both to detect and to respond to trafficking. We believe that expert training is essential for staff who may come across this problem so that they are fully trained in how to detect it, the vulnerability of those being trafficked, the ways in which it might be appropriate to respond and that such staff have access to support and advice. Communication and protocols for responding to suspected trafficking is also essential between key agencies, such as police, immigration, local authorities and health. Within this we would see it as essential for the individual to be able to access expert legal advice and assistance from a trusted source with an understanding of the issues.” The Scottish Refugee Council added “it is really hard to get clear substantive data about trafficking. Both this committee and the EHRC will probably face a similar challenge in trying to get a sense of what underlies the problem. The very nature of trafficking, whether for forced employment or for the purposes of the sex trade, means that it is a covert, criminal activity that is hard to get to grips with.”

There’s a topical seminar on this issue, arranged by the Scottish Refugee Council together with the Murray Stable in Glasgow on 4 June, at which two English barristers and, from Scotland, Lorna Drummond advocate, who has successfully brought judicial review petitions for a number of trafficking victims, will be speaking. Full details of the seminar here.

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