Concern for trafficking and treatment of migrants in Scotland

By agency reporter
February 22, 2011

Human rights NGO Amnesty has welcomed a report from the Scottish Parliament on migration and trafficking but expressed concern over the tackling of traffickers and bias in support for victims.

Commenting ahead of the Scottish Parliament's Equal Opportunities Committee debate on Migration and Trafficking following the committee's own inquiry last year, John Watson, Programme Director of Amnesty in Scotland, said: "While we welcome the comprehensive nature of the inquiry and subsequent report by the Scottish Parliament, we have two outstanding concerns - the lack of a clear picture of how traffickers are being tackled and an apparent bias in support for victims of trafficking.

He continued: "While there have been over 100 convictions for trafficking offences in England and Wales, there have been none recorded here in Scotland. Prosecution for lesser offences, whilst potentially easier to prove, carry lesser punishments, and make it impossible to know the scale and nature of trafficking here. We need the government to change the way it currently holds and produces prosecution figures which encompass the range of offences under which traffickers are currently prosecuted."

"The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) by which potentially trafficked people are identified and supported is placing more emphasis on their immigration status than the alleged crime committed against them. We need to ensure that the welfare of the potential victim is the primary concern and any decision as to asylum is suspended until after it has established whether or not that person has been has been the victim of trafficking.

"Amnesty is urging the Scottish Government to reconsider the Committee's recommendation to create a Scottish NRM which places the welfare of the individual above all else," said Watson.


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