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MEPs launch new bid to protect victims of modern slave trade

November 25, 2009 2:40 PM
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 hopes the new Declaration calling for action to protect victims will help police make successful prosecutions of suspected traffickers. She supported the police's Blue Blindfold campaign to report suspected trafficking (pictured).

Liberal Democrat MEP Liz Lynne has launched a new bid in the European Parliament to step up action against human trafficking gangs and to protect the victims of the modern day slave trade.

The MEP for the West Midlands region has teamed up with three other Euro MPs to launch a Written Declaration in the Parliament calling for Britain and other EU Member States to allow victims of trafficking gangs or forced labour to have access to temporary residence permits while they rebuild their lives and see if they can help prosecute the criminals that exploited them.

The Declaration, which calls on countries to opt in to Council Directive 2004/81/EC of 29 April 2004, also urges coordinated schemes to help victims who want to go back to their home country.

The MEPs are also urging all EU countries to sign up to and ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking of Human Beings.

Liz Lynne said: "I believe a new EU Parliament Declaration is needed to encourage further international action against human trafficking and the modern slave trade, which the UN estimates affects 12.3 million people worldwide. There are credible estimates that between 600 000 to 800 000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders each year and many are forced into prostitution.

"I hope as many MEPs as possible will sign up to this Declaration to show that this Parliament will not tolerate a modern slave trade or forced labour in Europe, or indeed anywhere else. We need 369 signatures from MEPs in order to adopt the declaration and get a debate held.

"The Council of Europe Convention on Trafficking concentrates more on the victim and every EU state needs to ratify it. We need more co-ordinated international action against this evil and an increased focus on helping the victims, not less.

"EU member states must also implement Directive 2004/81 on residence permits for the victims of trafficking; the UK has still not opted into this - that way convictions for trafficking will be easier to obtain."

Liz Lynne has campaigned against human trafficking for many years, as shadow rapporteur for a European Parliament report, the author of written declaration and parliamentary questions on the issue.