Government opts out of EU human trafficking directive

After months of confusion and mixed messages the government today opted out of new European Union rules to crack down on human trafficking, reports Shamik Das.

After months of confusion and mixed messages the UK government today opted out of new European Union rules to crack down on human trafficking – one of only two states, alongside Denmark, to do so. The laws, which will apply to trafficking in the sex industry or labour exploitation in fields like construction work, farming or domestic service, would have offered more rigorous prevention and tougher penalties for traffickers, as well as better protection for victims.

Only two weeks ago, when asked in the Commons by Labour MP Chi Onwurah:

“Will the Attorney-General explain why his Government do not sign the EU directive so that we can do all that we can to ensure that those responsible for this trade are brought to justice?”

Solicitor General Edward Garnier had insisted:

“I will be corrected if I am wrong, but I rather think that we have signed that directive. The Government take issues relating to human trafficking extremely seriously.”

Then, when asked by Labour’s Gemma Doyle:

“…does he agree that signing up to the proposed EU directive is important in the run-up to those events?”

Garnier said:

“I refer the hon. Lady to the answer that I gave to the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central (Chi Onwurah).”

This exchange followed Liberal Democrat equalities minister Lynne Featherstone’s remarks in the Commons last month that:

“There have been no ministerial discussions with other EU member states on human trafficking… We have decided not to opt in to the European directive at the moment, but we are keeping a watching brief.”

The issue was also raised three months ago at Prime Minister’s Questions, when David Cameron said he would “look into” the directive – with Harriet Harman accusing him of “pandering to the Tory right” for failing to give a guarantee. Despite Mr Cameron’s words, and as confirmed by Ms Featherstone, the UK government did not even take part in the discussions.

36 Responses to “Government opts out of EU human trafficking directive”

  1. Ahmed Ibrahim

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government opts out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg reports @ShamikDas << Shocking!

  2. Natalie Dzerins

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government opts out of EU human trafficking directive //bit.ly/eJbWQL <—- sickening

  3. Gareth Davies

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government opts out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg reports @ShamikDas

  4. Noel

    RT @NatalieDzerins: RT @leftfootfwd: Government opts out of EU human trafficking directive //bit.ly/eJbWQL <—- sickening

  5. Taobh Clé

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government opts out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg reports @ShamikDas

  6. Ron Graves

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government opts out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg reports @ShamikDas

  7. Steven Sumpter

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government opts out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg reports @ShamikDas

  8. Cheadle Labour

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government opts out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg reports @ShamikDas

  9. zellieh

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government opts out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg reports @ShamikDas

  10. Richard Howitt MEP

    Shameful #ConDems confirm opt-out to anti- sex trafficking law voted in European Parliament this week //bit.ly/eBVKUg @leftfootfwd

  11. Carol

    RT @leftfootfwd: UK Government opts out of EU #humantrafficking directive //bit.ly/eJbWQL (big mistake!!!!)

  12. kate

    RT @wdjstraw: Outrageous: Britain's Gov is one of just two to opt out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg (via @Sham …

  13. Hazico_Jo

    RT @wdjstraw: Outrageous: Britain's Gov is one of just two to opt out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg (via @Sham …

  14. Benita Cooke

    RT @wdjstraw: Outrageous: Britain's Gov is 1 of just 2 to opt out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg (via @ShamikDas)

  15. Shamik Das

    RT @wdjstraw: Outrageous: Britain's Gov is 1 of just 2 to opt out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg

  16. ally

    RT @wdjstraw: Outrageous: Britain's Gov is one of just two to opt out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg (via @Sham …

  17. Lynda Waltho

    RT @wdjstraw: Outrageous: Britain's Gov is one of just two to opt out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg (via @Sham …

  18. Daniel Gane

    RT @wdjstraw: Outrageous: Britain's Gov is one of just two to opt out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg (via @Sham …

  19. Ed Watkinson

    RT @wdjstraw: Outrageous: Britain's Gov is one of just two to opt out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg (via @Sham …

  20. Roxanne Ellis

    RT @wdjstraw: Outrageous: Britain's Gov is one of just two to opt out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg (via @Sham …

  21. Anthony Z

    Guess we know what women’s lives are worth now – not quite as much as a tiny piece of shared sovereignty. I imagine some policy official in the Foreign Office huddled in a corner, muttering “we wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious. They stole it from us. Sneaky little eurocratses.”

  22. Shrupti Shah

    RT @wdjstraw: Outrageous: Britain's Gov is one of just two to opt out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg (via @Sham …

  23. Claire Spencer

    Genuine question – what possible reason do we have for opting out of the human trafficking directive? //s.coop/6bu (from @leftfootfwd)

  24. Matt

    What an utter, utter disgrace.

  25. Anthony Z

    Hang on a minute though – rereading the linked item at the EP, it only says that the directive does not apply to the UK, which is true because we opted out of all justice and home affairs policies. It doesn’t say we have definitely not opted in – it just says that we might later. So perhaps it’s not quite all over yet.

    (I still think that there’s a sovereignty Gollum in the FCO, though)

  26. Emma Burnell

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government opts out of EU human trafficking directive //bit.ly/eJbWQL > This Government are a disgrace

  27. Mike Parker

    RT @wdjstraw: Outrageous: Britain's Gov is one of just two to opt out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg (via @Sham …

  28. Tris

    I wonder what that tells us…

  29. neilrfoster

    RT @wdjstraw: Outrageous: Britain's Gov is one of just two to opt out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg (via @Sham …

  30. Michael Hanley

    RT @wdjstraw: Outrageous: Britain's Gov is one of just two to opt out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg (via @Sham …

  31. Syed Choudhury

    Disgusting! RT @leftfootfwd Government opts out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg reports @ShamikDas #fb

  32. Catherine McKinnell

    RT @wdjstraw: Outrageous: Britain's Gov is one of just two to opt out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg (via @Sham …

  33. Andy S

    RT @wdjstraw: Outrageous: Britain's Gov is one of just two to opt out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg (via @Sham …

  34. Robert Weale

    //bit.ly/gv257s this is what comes from all those meetings then @margotjamesmp ?

  35. Jon Morris

    RT @wdjstraw: Outrageous: Britain's Gov is one of just two to opt out of EU human trafficking directive: //bit.ly/eBVKUg (via @Sham …

  36. ACTFORJUSTICE

    Government opts out of EU human trafficking directive
    //tinyurl.com/3x3ss27

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