Coalition still planning to opt out of directive on human trafficking

The prime minister today insisted the Government was uncompromising in its position on cracking down on human trafficking.

The prime minister today insisted the Government was uncompromising in its position on cracking down on human trafficking. He was responding to acting Labour leader Harriet Harman’s questions on whether he would reconsider opting in to the European directive on human trafficking in their final PMQs together. David Cameron said the Government will “look into” the European Union directive on human trafficking again, but also that the proposed law does not include anything that is not covered by British law already.

Ms Harman, however, accused Mr Cameron of “pandering to the Tory right” – giving ground to Eurosceptics who claim Britain’s sovereignty is being lost to the EU. The directive proposes common legal standards for prosecuting sex traffickers and those involved in exploiting children. It also proposes greater protection for the victims of international human trafficking.

Earlier this month, Left Foot Forward highlighted the importance of signing the directive. Conviction rates of human traffickers have remained low: in the first six months of this year, only five people were sentenced according to the UK Human Trafficking Centre. An international conference held by the Crown Prosecution Service called for neighbouring EU states to work together in the fight against the crime.

Former Europe minister Denis MacShane recently wrote to the deputy prime minister saying:

“Women in particular will be alarmed to learn that the Liberal Democrats are willing to support these efforts to weaken the directive. It is the wrong signal to send to the pimps and traffickers.

“I hope you can persuade the prime minister to drop his opt-out policy on this welcome effort to combat sex-slave trafficking.”

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