The Justice Committee will host its first roundtable evidence session on the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill today.
The start of Stage 1 of the Bill will see members of the Committee hear from representatives from a range of organisations that support those who are caught up in this illicit trade, including Barnardo’s Scotland, the Scottish Refugee Council and Victim Support Scotland.
The Bill aims to clarify and strengthen criminal law by introducing a new single human trafficking offence as well as increasing the maximum penalty for offenders to life imprisonment. It would also place duties on Scottish Ministers to ensure immediate support for adult victims and to prepare a trafficking and exploitation strategy.
Committee Convener Christine Grahame MSP said:
“Human trafficking and exploitation are serious, complex crimes which know no borders. It extends well beyond the sex trade and involves the provision of cheap labour for a number of purposes, all of them exploitative.
“There is a perception that that those who are trafficked tend to come from the Far East or Eastern Europe. And while many do, domestic trafficking is a real problem too.
“Last month members of the Justice Committee visited a number of projects to meet with those involved in supporting people who find themselves exploited and abused in this way. The stories we heard were harrowing and it is clear that we need to improve protection for those caught up in it, and to prevent others from reaching that point.
“This will be the first of a series of formal evidence sessions as we scrutinise this Bill and determine whether the proposed legislation will achieve its aims in preventing and tackling these crimes and in protecting victims.”
The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill was published on 12 December. More information on the Bill can be found here: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/84356.aspx
The Committee’s call for evidence ran until 24 February 2015.
More information on the Committee’s work can be found on the Committee’s webpage: