People trafficking protection measures slammed

Measures to protect victims of people smuggling are "not fit for purpose" and may be illegal, a report claimed today.

Campaigners accused the British Government of breaching its obligations under European law to protect trafficked people and uphold minimum standards of care.

They said border officials focus on the immigration status of victims and not on crimes such as sexual exploitation and forced labour.

And they warned shortcomings in the national operation mean vital intelligence about criminal gangs is being lost to police.

Kate Allen, of Amnesty International, said an overhaul of the system must change the emphasis to protecting victims not "hounding people" for immigration crimes.

She said: "We pushed hard for the government to sign up to the anti-trafficking convention but the government has botched its attempt to deal with this most despicable of crimes.

"In particular, the identification system is clearly not fit for purpose, with under-trained staff displaying ignorance over what trafficking actually is."

Researchers at the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group examined measures launched 14 months ago, including changes to identify trafficking victims more quickly.

In a report titled "Wrong kind of victim?", they said the process is "flawed" and may discriminate between people from different parts of the world.

Campaigners said there is evidence criminals control people by warning they will be seen as illegal immigrants, not victims.

Border staff were singled out for failing victims of sexual exploitation and forced labour, including children.

The report highlighted how only 36 trafficking-related cases were prosecuted in the nine months to January 2010, while 5,000 victims of smuggling are in Britain.

It called for the appointment of an anti-trafficking watchdog and the introduction of an independent appeals system.

Aidan McQuade, of Anti-Slavery International, said viewing trafficking as a form of immigration crime has led to "arbitrary decisions".

He said: "Evidence gathered in this study shows that this is undermining the ability of the police to combat the trafficking gangs who are making fortunes from the misery of others."

Christine Beddoe, of ECPAT UK, said: "Children are not 'mini-adults' and attempting to fit them into a system designed for adults is inappropriate. The experiences and needs of children are quite different to those of adult victims.

"It is essential that children are provided with a legal guardian to ensure that their best interests are always considered."

ECPAT stands for: End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes.

The Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group is a coalition of campaign groups including Anti-Slavery International, Amnesty International and ECPAT UK.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory