Following the conviction yesterday of UK pensioner Saeeda Khan for trafficking and exploiting a woman from Africa, anti-Trafficking Campaigner Catherine Bearder MEP has once again called on the government to opt-in to the EU Trafficking Directive.
Mrs Bearder, who campaigns locally to raise awareness of the trafficking in human beings, commented:
"The UK government must opt-in to the European Trafficking Directive."
"This reinforced EU law will strengthen our own anti-trafficking legislation and good practice, help to combat modern-day slavery across Europe and protect some of the most vulnerable women and children."
"Every police officer and trafficking NGO I have spoken to says it will help them catch trafficking gangs, make it easier to convict traffickers and dramatically improve our care for trafficking's victims."
"People traffickers have no respect for borders so governments must act together to stop this terrible crime."
A petition of nearly 50,000 signatures has been gathered by a coalition of Anti-Slavery International, ECPAT UK, 38 Degrees and the Independent on Sunday.
The UK only participates in EU Justice & Home Affairs legislation when it chooses to, and there are two opportunities for the UK to opt in on any measure. The UK government announced in June that it would not opt in to the new EU anti-trafficking law at the beginning of negotiations, but would instead wait to see how the final text negotiated between MEPs and the other EU governments turns out before deciding whether to participate in the final version.
The coalition agreement says: 'We will approach forthcoming legislation in the area of criminal justice on a case-by-case basis, with a view to maximising our country's security, protecting Britain's civil liberties and preserving the integrity of our criminal justice system.'
Catherine Bearder MEP has launched a campaign to Stamp out Trafficking at our Olympics. Large sporting events, such as Olympics and World Cups, have been shown to lead to a rise in human trafficking, primarily to satisfy the increased demand in the sex industry.
The petition to the government, gathered by Anti-Slavery International, ECPAT UK, 38 Degrees and the Independent on Sunday, can be found by clicking here. It will be handed in at Downing Street on Saturday 19th March.
Saeeda Khan was prosecuted for trafficking and exploiting 47 year old Mwanamisi Mruke at her house in Harrow. The 68-year-old hired Mrs Mruke in her native Tanzania in 2006 after she was made redundant from the hospital in Dar es Salaam run by Khan and her late husband. Khan arranged a domestic service visa and promised to pay her 120,000 shillings (£21) a month into her Tanzanian bank account and £10 a month pocket money in London.
Khan took her passport away, forced her to sleep on the kitchen floor and gave her two slices of bread a day for food. Her clothes were kept in a garden shed. Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland said the Metropolitan Police were currently investigating another 15 cases of trafficking for forced labour, and had worked with forces in Surrey, Sussex, Hertfordshire and the West Midlands on similar cases.