We need to track the slavemasters across every continent, says top prosecutor

The country’s top prosecutor has called for law enforcers to target the “trail of criminal conduct” that human traffickers are leaving across continents, as she appealed for greater international cooperation to tackle modern slavery.

Alison Saunders said the “fight against modern slavery” would only be won with the involvement and engagement of every nation it touches”, as she met prosecutors, government officials and other law enforcers from around the world at a special summit.

Ms Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the aim should be to pursue modern slave traders during every part of their activities. These included when they committed crimes while recruiting their victims and transporting them, as well as the abuse of women, men and children once in their destination country.

She said the criminal profits made by the traffickers could also be more effectively targeted through international cooperation and revealed that Britain is currently involved in more than 20 joint investigations with law enforcers from countries overseas.

The DPP’s comments came at a three-day summit attended by prosecutors, government officials and other law enforcers from countries including Romania, Albania, Nigeria, Sudan, Greece, Italy and Poland.

Charity helps more trafficking victims

A head of a human rights charity today said it is helping more and more trafficking victims in London.

Professor Cornelius Katona is medical director at the Helen Bamber Foundation, which has worked with asylum-seekers, refugees and victims of trafficking and torture since 2005. 

The psychiatrist said: “We often see people where a large component of their trafficking has taken place in the UK.  They continue to be exploited for sexual purposes, or for work, or for both, in the UK. It can take years to escape from that.” 

This week the foundation was awarded a £100,000 grant by the City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable fund. Based in Camden, it treats 840 patients, mainly for post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Professor Katona said: “Unless good victim care is ensured, the likelihood of successful prosecution goes down. The two go hand in hand.

“The police need to interview people in a way that minimises further stress and further trauma in both the police setting and in the court setting. 

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “We are committed to prosecuting those responsible for human trafficking and modern slavery offences. We put the victims at the centre of all the services we deliver to safeguard them and help them bring a case before the court.”

Others attending the event at Wilton Park in West Sussex, which finished today, included the Attorney General Jeremy Wright and the UK independent anti-slavery commissioner Kevin Hyland.

Ms Saunders said the aim was to begin “a new phase of international cooperation between prosecutors and law enforcement agencies” and added: “We cannot allow these criminals to exploit people, evade justice and profit from their wrongdoing.

“The scale of human trafficking and modern slavery around the world today means law enforcement and prosecutors need to do more to disrupt and prosecute the criminals responsible — and to confiscate their very significant profits.” 

Ms Saunders added that traffickers were “likely to have committed criminal acts in their country of origin” before often leaving “a trail of criminal conduct across a number of countries where victims have been exploited or harmed while in transit”.

Victims were then subjected to a range of abuse, including forced labour or domestic servitude, forced criminality, sexual exploitation or sham marriages, while the profits made also “find their way across continents”.

Each stage provided an opportunity for detection and prosecution.

The summit was organised in response to a call last year at the United Nations by Prime Minister Theresa May for greater international cooperation in the fight against modern slavery.

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