Bangor University to host major event on Human Trafficking in Wales
In its newly released first annual report, the Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Human Trafficking reported to Parliament that the number of people being trafficked into the UK is rising. Last year the authorities learned of 946 victims, compared with 710 in 2010.
The release of this report coincides with a groundbreaking event being co-hosted by Bangor University’s Centre for International Law and the Welsh Centre for International Affairs, to be held at the University’s Main Arts Lecture Theatre on Friday, 2nd November 2012.
Professor Suzannah Linton, Chair of International Law at the Law School and Director of the Centre, is co-organising this public meeting on ‘Human Trafficking in Wales’. She explained how human trafficking is, at core, a ruthless profit-making business, and is being conducted through organised crime networks. She cites the Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Human Trafficking that “human trafficking is the vilest of crimes and equates to modern day slavery”. She points out how trafficking has become a highly complex form of transnational criminality, and can involve many elements ranging from illegal transportation of persons across international borders to deception, physical and psychological violence, duress, enforced prostitution, forced labour, domestic servitude and even the taking of life, whether in the form of murder or manslaughter, such as when transported migrants die from the extreme circumstances in which they are being transported, or when trafficked persons are forced to work in dangerous conditions.
Chris Thompson, of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs, explained how the Cardiff-based Centre supports organisations within Wales to raise awareness about human trafficking. “This includes supporting people within Wales to recognise the role we share as active citizens. By spotting the warning signs and knowing how best to intervene, everyone can act to protect the most vulnerable in our communities from abuse and immense suffering.”
The Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Human Trafficking reports that “men, women and children from across the world are exploited and forced into performing services or other work against their will. In some instances the exploitation can be experienced over a prolonged period of time. Those who are exploited may face years of sexual abuse, forced labour, or domestic servitude and, in many instances, never fully recover from their traumatic experience”.
Is there a problem of trafficking in Wales? In 2011, 946 potential victims of human trafficking were referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), and 2.5% were in Wales (the October 2012 Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Human Trafficking report shows that over 84% of potential victims being referred to the NRM were in England, with just under 10% of referrals in Scotland, 3.5% in Northern Ireland, and 2.5% in Wales).
Force Intelligence Detective Inspector and Special Point Of Contact (SPOC) for North Wales Police concerning Human Trafficking, Kelly Isaacs, is one of those who will be speaking at the event at Bangor University. “Protecting our most vulnerable people is and always will be one of the most important things we do in policing the communities of Wales”, says DI Isaacs. “Every victim of human trafficking originating in Wales or from abroad has the right to demand the highest quality service from the Police Service and our Safeguarding partners. North Wales Police recognises that traffickers are adaptable, organised criminals, and we must ensure that our prevention and enforcement action keeps pace with their activities. It is key that we gather intelligence from all available sources - including partner agencies and the public – to ensure we can shape our policing response appropriately to effectively reduce victimisation and assist those who are already victims.”
Barbara Natasegara from Safer Wales will also be speaking at the event. According to her, the Safer Wales project ‘StreetLife’ provides outreach support to street sex workers in Cardiff, safeguarding and supporting women and children to exit this form of exploitation, and providing safe exit routes, including emergency accommodation pathways for women from across Wales. The organisation regularly comes across women who have been trafficked, although they may not always recognise it themselves. “This is perhaps the most heinous aspect of this trade, in that the victims themselves may end up colluding with their controllers, their situations in the country of origin being sometimes so poor that they end up deluding themselves that they are ‘better off’ in the sex trade here.”
‘Human Trafficking in Wales’ will take place at 6.30pm on Friday, 2nd November 2012, in the University’s Main Arts Lecture Theatre on College Road. It will feature a short video, and the speakers will be Barbara Natasegara of Safer Wales, DI Kelly Isaacs of the North Wales Police, Dr Mwenya Chimba of BAWSO: Black African Women Step Out and Ryan Tiede from the International Justice Mission. Bangor’s Professor Linton will chair the event.
Publication date: 31 October 2012