GRETA publishes its third report on the United Kingdom



The Council of Europe Expert Group on Trafficking in Human Beings urged the UK to take further steps to improve the identification of victims of trafficking, ensure victims receive legal assistance and psychological and ensure that more traffickers are convicted.

These are among the main proposals for action included in the latest assessment of the UK’s implementation of the Council of Europe Anti-Trafficking Convention, released today by the Group of Experts on Action against trafficking in human beings (GRETA).

The report notes that the number of potential trafficking victims referred to the UK’s National Referral Mechanism (NRM) increased from 1,182 in 2012 to 10,613 last year. In 2019, more than two-thirds of potential victims were men and 27% were UK nationals. The number of children referred to the NRM almost quadrupled between 2016 and 2020, from 1,279 to 4,946.

The report welcomes the efforts of the British authorities to create specialized bodies to combat trafficking and their active participation in international efforts to combat trafficking in human beings. It also highlights the “Children’s House” program as a good example of child-friendly justice that should be further developed.

In addition, GRETA welcomes the authorities’ commitment to eradicate trafficking in human beings in businesses and supply chains, including in the public sector, and suggests mandatory sanctions for businesses that fail to meet their obligations to diligence under the Modern Slavery Act.

At the same time, GRETA urges the UK to speed up the identification of victims of trafficking by funding the recruitment of competent staff and making the process more efficient. The authorities should also do more to prevent trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation, including by strengthening the remit and capacity of labor market inspectorates.

Free and timely legal aid should be provided to victims of trafficking across the UK, the report says, and psychological assistance should be provided for as long as needed.

GRETA welcomes the increase in the number of investigations and prosecutions for trafficking-related offenses, but expresses concern at the low number of convictions compared to the victims identified, highlighting the insufficiency of resources, the cuts in the criminal justice system and the lack of sustained support for victims. GRETA also calls on the authorities to ensure that judicial proceedings are of a reasonable length.

While welcoming the range of legal avenues available to seek compensation, GRETA expresses its concern at the low number of victims who have actually received compensation from their traffickers or from the State. GRETA urges the authorities to allow all victims of trafficking, including undocumented migrants, to exercise their right to compensation.

Furthermore, GRETA calls on the authorities to ensure that the “non-sanction provision” contained in the convention can be applied to all offenses that victims have been forced to commit.

Furthermore, GRETA stresses that victims of trafficking – including children – who have been definitively identified as such should be issued with renewable residence permits. The UK should also review its return and repatriation policies to ensure returns are carried out with respect for the rights, safety and dignity of victims, after a full risk assessment.

GRETA also stresses that the UK government’s new immigration plan, announced in March 2021, must be implemented in line with the UK’s commitments under the Anti-Trafficking Convention – including the obligation to identify victims of trafficking, including among asylum seekers, and to provide them with assistance.


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.