The UK has joined with other governments in addressing trafficking in source countries. Such cooperation has focused on raising awareness among communities at risk of trafficking about the dangers that trafficking poses; supporting efforts to address the root causes of trafficking, for example, through the promotion of girls' education; and coordinating with law enforcement agencies to facilitate the prevention, deterrence and prosecution of those involved in trafficking.
In November 2004, for example, the UK government and the government of Nigeria signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons. The nongovernmental organization (NGO) community in the UK is actively addressing trafficking. Both agencies that focus exclusively on trafficking and those that specialize in asylum and migration have dedicated significant time, resources and energy to understanding the problem, assisting victims and advocating for systemic reform with government both at the local and national levels to ensure an effective, holistic approach to the issue that puts the rights of victims at its center.
Fundamentally, trafficking will not end, and likely will continue to increase, unless effective strategies are developed that prevent communities at risk from becoming vulnerable, that protect and assist trafficking victims so that they are safe from retaliation from their traffickers and are not at risk of re-trafficking or other abuses, and that bring the full force of the law against traffickers to send a strong message that those who engage in this crime will be fully prosecuted. Trafficking cannot be addressed through the lens of migration control.
Interception efforts will only drive traffickers elsewhere and will do little to protect their victims. It is a human rights problem that deserves the full condemnation of and concerted and integrated response from the international community.
- Put the rights and the protection needs of trafficked persons at the center of any effort to combat trafficking.
- Ensure that trafficked persons have full information about, and access to, the asylum system, including consideration of whether they are at risk of re-trafficking.
- Develop a new protection mechanism for trafficked persons, including a three- to sixmonth reflection period and temporary or permanent residence for trafficked persons who cannot be returned to their homelands safely. Such mechanisms should not be contingent on cooperation with law enforcement authorities.
- Support through national funding the creation of safe house programs that can assist trafficked persons with accommodation, food, counseling services, health care and protection from traffickers. Such services should not be contingent on cooperation with law enforcement authorities.
- Ensure effective information sharing and integrated strategies among law enforcement, immigration and social services agencies to combat trafficking. Such efforts must be local, national, regional and international in scope to ensure their effectiveness.