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Catherine Bearder "Human Rights and Trafficking" - Speech to Lib Dem Conference

Catherine Bearder gave a speech on the need for the UK to be fully comitted to fight human trafficking at the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference in Glasgow this week. Speaking in favour of the motion on Human Rights she said:

key_traffickedgirl.pngConference, this motion is right to highlight one of the most dangerous threats to basic freedoms across the globe.

Human trafficking, effectively the modern slave trade that sees more people living a life of slavery today than when the trade was legal over 200 years ago.

It's estimated that there are currently 27 million victims globally.

It is poverty that drives victims into the arms of traffickers - once there, they are bought and sold like disposable commodities.

The European Union, so often the destination point for trafficked men, women and children, is taking real steps to create a coordinated fight against this disgusting enterprise.

We have, finally, signed up to the Directive on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Protecting its victims.

For those of you who don't understand how we arrive at such a Directive, this is not something that Brussels has "made us do"!!

Directives are scrutinised and amended both by your MEPs and by Ministers from all the Member Countries.

All agreed the principles contained within it. And accepted that they will be implemented.

One of the requirements every country signed up to in this very good Directive is that they should set up a 'National Rapporteur' (or if you prefer it an ambassador or Czar).

This is a person responsible for monitoring the implementation of and monitoring anti-trafficking policy at national level.

These named people should play a vital role in sharing best practices between the 28 Member States. And boost the almost non-existent collection of reliable data on trafficking across the EU.

Unfortunately, I am sorry to say, the UK is lagging behind in this particular requirement. One that will make a huge difference helping these people who have had that most basic human right taken away from them - liberty.

The government has released its Trafficking Strategy and the forward by Theresa May demonstrates her commitment in this area.

She even says: "We are determined to work more closely with our international partners"

And she says: "By applying to opt in to the EU Directive on human trafficking, we have demonstrated our commitment to working with other countries in Europe to drive up standards across the continent in tackling trafficking."

Well Theresa, it's all very well saying it. It's all very well agreeing to working closely together. But it's another thing all together to follow through on the commitments you've made to your partners.

Conference, the UK has the opportunity to lead the international fight against this horrible abuse of human rights for the over 140.000 victims across Europe trapped in this vicious cycle of violence, abuse and degradation.

Human trafficking is an issue that can only be tackled at an international level. Attempts to pull up the drawbridge and fight this crime our own way will ultimately lead to wasted money, more victims, and more opportunities for the traffickers.

Why is Mrs May dragging her feet? Is it her fear of the word Europe? Or is she confused about the difference between EU Directives and ECHR rights like most Tories are?

We need this person now - the UK has agreed to it and is obliged to appoint him or her.

The victims deserve it. Our friends in the European Union are waiting.

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