The UK Government is going to start the process of joining in the EU Directive on Human Trafficking, something which didn't look likely last September when Stephen Glenn wrote so passionately about the issue. This has to be a major Liberal Democrat win within the Coalition.
It seemed like the Tory truculence on Europe was the only reason holding the Government back from signing up to a very useful document that helps to tackle a horrible abuse of vulnerable people. Its announcement is here and below is a summary of the measures it brings in - including important support for the victims. Imagine if you'd been smuggled into the country by someone you trusted who promised you a better life and ended up forced into prostitution or pornography. What you need in that circumstance is looking after, not condemnation. The wicked people who orchestrate these things need to be punished and the Directive will help that cause by making a common definition across Europe and working together to more effectively find and prosecute those responsible.
CRIMINAL LAW PROVISIONS, including a common definition of the crime, aggravating circumstances and higher penalties, as well as non-punishment of the victims for unlawful activities such the use of false documents in which they have been involved for being subjected to by traffickers.
PROSECUTION OF OFFENDERS, including extraterritorial jurisdiction (the possibility to prosecute EU nationals for crimes committed in other countries), use of investigative tools typical for organised crime cases such as phone tapping and tracing proceeds of crime.
VICTIMS' RIGHTS IN CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS, including specific treatment for particularly vulnerable victims aimed at preventing secondary victimisation (no visual contact with the defendant, no questioning on private life, no unnecessary repetition of the testimony, etc.), police protection of victims, legal counselling also aimed to enable victims to claim compensation; special protective measures are envisaged for children such as holding interviews in a friendly environment.
VICTIMS' SUPPORT, including national mechanisms for early identification and assistance to victims, based on cooperation between law enforcement and civil society organisations, providing victims with shelters, medical and psychological assistance, information, interpretation services. A victim shall be treated as such as soon as there is an indication that she/he has been trafficked, and will be provided with assistance before, during and after criminal proceedings.
PREVENTION, including measures aimed at discouraging the demand that fosters trafficking, i.e. employers hiring trafficked persons and clients buying sexual services from victims of trafficking, training for officials likely to come into contact with victims, and of potential victims to warn them about the risks of falling prey to traffickers.
MONITORING, providing for the establishment of National Rapporteurs or equivalent mechanisms, which should be independent bodies, in charge of monitoring the implementation of the measures foreseen by the Framework Decision. Such bodies should have further tasks including giving advice and addressing recommendations to governments.