Modern slavery and human trafficking is happening around the world and closer to home within local communities, Justice Minister Naomi Long said.
She was speaking as she launched a twelve-week public consultation on a new three-year Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Strategy for Northern Ireland.
The consultation seeks views and comments from individuals and organisations across all sectors to ensure that the resulting strategy is as informed, comprehensive and effective as possible.
Mrs Long said: “It is fitting that this consultation is launched on International Anti-Slavery Day. Anti-slavery day is promoted around the world to highlight that the issues associated with modern slavery and human trafficking are wide ranging and can impact on all of us.
“Tackling it requires everybody to work together to ensure victims are supported, society is informed and that authorities are enabled to pursue the selfish and heartless offenders who prey on the most vulnerable in society.”
Following the enactment of the Justice (Sexual Offences and Trafficking Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 this strategy is the first 3-year strategy for Northern Ireland and the fifth overall.
As with previous strategies, commitments and objectives continue to be set out under three key themes, namely to pursue offenders, protect victims and prevent these crimes from occurring.
Mrs Long said: “We must ensure there is adequate support and protection for adult and child victims in tackling this form of criminality. Through collaborative work we can achieve commitments within the strategy in both the short, medium and long term to ensure Northern Ireland is a place free from human trafficking and modern slavery.”
“I am also publishing the 2021/22 progress report which demonstrates the significant progress made by a range of partners to deliver the commitments in the 21/22 strategy; we cannot however afford to let our guard down in tackling this heinous crime.”
I would encourage everyone to be alert to potential modern slavery or human trafficking abuses, and to contact the police or the Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700 with any concerns.
The Strategy is and 2021/22 Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking progress report is available at the publication section of this website.
Notes to editors:
1. The consultation on the draft strategy runs from 18 October 2022 to 10 January 2023: To respond to the consultation visit NIDirect website.
2. For enquiries relating to the consultation, please contact MSHTEnquiries@justice-ni.gov.uk Hard copies and alternative formats of the consultation document are available on request from this address.
3. All responses to the consultation will be considered by Department of Justice before any appropriate revisions made, and necessary approvals obtained, before the final strategy is published.
4. The strategy has been developed under section 12 of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 and following the enactment of the Justice (Sexual Offences and Trafficking Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022. The strategy has moved from being produced annually to every three years.
5. The progress report considers whether objectives within the 2021/22 Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Strategy have been met, are on track or will be carried forward into the new longer-term strategy.
6. Further information about human slavery can be found at on the NIDirect website
7. Some of the signs of modern slavery are:
• Someone who is distrustful of authorities;
• Someone who appears to be under the control of others;
• An over-crowded house or flat;
• Someone who is unsure of their address or the local area;
• Someone who may not have cash because they can’t keep the money they earn; or
• Someone who can’t produce their passport or personal documents.
8. Media enquiries to the Department of Justice Press Office 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours, please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.
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