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MEPs approve EU trafficking law: no reason for UK to stay out says MEP

December 15, 2010 10:24 AM
Originally published by Liz Lynne
Liz Lynne MEP with Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell and DCI Nick Kinsella launching the EU wide Blue Blindfold campaign to report suspected human traffickers to police.

Liz Lynne has been longstanding supporter of tough international police action to tackle human trafficking. She and Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell launched the EU wide Blue Blindfold campaign to report suspected human traffickers last year.

The European Parliament has approved a new European directive to fight human trafficking and modern slavery, after MEPs including local Lib Dem Euro MP Liz Lynne and UK Conservative MEPs voted it through at Strasbourg this week.

Through more effective EU cooperation and a wider definition of trafficking it aims to hit the cross-border criminal networks guilty of buying, selling and exploiting other people.

It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people are trafficked into or within the EU every year, mostly exploited for prostitution but also as slave labour, begging and an evil trade in stealing human organs.

Since EU governments have also already given the legislation their approval the measures will now become EU law. The UK, which decided not to 'opt in' to this directive when it was first proposed, now has a second chance to decide to participate.

Local MEP and longstanding campaigner against human trafficking Liz Lynne said:

"This new EU-wide push to fight the illegal sex trade and modern-day slavery and put its perpetrators into jail is vital. Criminals who dehumanise vulnerable people and exploit them for profit must be stopped."

"The law against this pernicious crime is much tougher, for instance a new maximum jail sentence of 10 years instead of 8, much better care for child victims and an EU anti-trafficking coordinator.

Trafficking now covers selling a person as a beggar or pickpocket, or for adoption, forced marriage or harvesting of organs for transplant."

"MEPs have also insisted that victims receive protection, maximising the chance that they will help with prosecutions of the gangsters. If the victims are immediately deported as illegal immigrants or punished for involuntary offences, the gangs will get away with it as getting successful prosecutions and evidence is almost impossible."

"UK concerns about the text of the directive have been met and it meets the test in the coalition agreement. Cross-border cooperation is essential to combat people-trafficking and the UK should be leading the way in the international effort to stamp it out."

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

1. 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 at the beginning of negotiations to this new EU anti-trafficking law but would wait to see how the final text negotiated between MEPs and the other EU governments turned out before deciding whether to participate in the final version.

2. Regarding EU justice & home affairs, the UK coalition government 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