Local Euro MP Catherine Bearder today joined fellow Lib Dem Liz Lynne to call for the European Union and its member states to take modern-day slavery more seriously.
There are 12.3 million people worldwide categorised as modern slaves and up to 800,000 of these are trafficked across borders each year.
As a campaigner for the abolition of slavery and trafficking, Catherine said, "that people across the world are still kept as slaves is a major stain on our global society." She explained, "men, women and children are incarcerated in slave labour, and many of the women, and children too, are forced into prostitution to make money for the criminals that think they own them."
Catherine despaired that "here in the UK there is not just a problem of people being trafficked into our country but also being trafficked within it. Children are being moved around both urban and rural areas across the whole country for the benefit of their abusers." This week a report was published by Barnardos, Whose Child Now?, that revealed the staggering facts about the trafficking of children in the UK. It reveals that fifteen out of their 21 services across the UK have encountered cases of children born in Britain being trafficked around the country for the purposes of exploitation. What makes things worse is the perpetrators of these crimes appear to have constructed very well organised networks so then can carry out their crimes.
Catherine argued, "the countries of Europe must take this problem more seriously. They need to put the interests of the victims of slavery at the forefront of any response to it. People held in slavery and trafficked are victims and therefore deserve to receive the support we would offer to victims of any serious crime."
"The UK signed two Council of Europe conventions to enshrine in law the rights of trafficking's victims. The Labour government has failed to ratify the second of these and until it does it will be failing those forgotten by society."
The United Kingdom has signed and ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings. However, it has signed but failed to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse.
To read Barnardos' report, Whose Child Now?, please visit Barnardos' website.