Justice Minister Naomi Long has launched a consultation to amend human trafficking legislation.
The Minister is consulting on amendments to the modern slavery provisions in the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support For Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 (‘the HT Act 2015’)
Naomi Long said: “Human trafficking is a heinous crime which exploits the most vulnerable in society. It’s something none of us want to believe could be happening close to home but yet it is happening within our society.
“Amending the existing legislation would mean that the provision of assistance and support to potential victims of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour would become a statutory requirement.
“Proposed amendments would also allow for a longer term strategy, which would allow my Department, along with partners, to set a strategic direction for addressing modern slavery, while also delivering shorter-term operational plans.
“We have all seen the tragic outcomes that human trafficking creates and I urge people to engage with this consultation.”
The consultation contains proposals to:
• Amend Section 18 of the HT Act 2015 to make the provision of assistance and support to potential victims of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour a statutory requirement. The provision of assistance and support to potential victims of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour has been in place in Northern Ireland since March 2016 but is currently not a statutory duty and;
• Amend section 12 of the HT Act 2015 to remove the statutory requirement to publish a strategy at least once in every year.
It is proposed that combining a longer term strategy with annual operational plans will provide an appropriate and proportionate level of assurance that the Department can both respond quickly to a changing environment, while also enabling it to work collectively with others to ensure the protection and support of victims and the prosecution of traffickers.
The consultation will run for an 8 week period from 7 July to 1 September 2020.
Notes to editors:
1. Further information on this consultation, including the full consultation document and ways to respond, can be found on the Department’s website at: Justice-ni/consultations
2. All media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office by emailing Press.Office@justice-ni.x.gsi.gov.uk
3. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110
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