Ambassador Dominic Schroeder's statement to the OSCE Permanent Council on the draft Modern Slavery Bill, Vienna, Austria
Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Vienna, Austria.
Thursday 19th December, 2013
I align myself with the statement made on behalf of the European Union and its Member States but wanted to make a few remarks in my national capacity about the publication this week of the UK government’s draft Modern Slavery Bill.
Special Representative Giamarrinaro mentions in her report that at the beginning of this month she attended a Modern Slavery Evidence Review session in London. The evidence review will help to inform and shape the Bill and its contents and will report on practical and effective ways of ending modern slavery in the UK. That the Special Representative was invited to give evidence demonstrates the high professional and personal standing of Ms Giammarinaro but also the profile, relevance and credibility of the OSCE in international efforts to tackle human trafficking.
The UK government believes that the draft Bill published on 16th December will send a strong message that we are absolutely committed to combating modern slavery. By cutting this crime, we will bring more slave drivers to justice, help to rescue more victims, and reduce the number of future victims.
The draft Bill will:
provide clarity and focus when investigating and prosecuting traffickers by consolidating and simplifying existing offences;
ensure that offenders receive the punishments they deserve by increasing the maximum sentence available to life imprisonment;
strengthen the court’s ability to protect the public by introducing civil orders to restrict the activity of those convicted of trafficking offences, or considered to pose a risk of trafficking to others;
create a new Anti-Slavery Commissioner to galvanise law enforcement’s response; and
create a new requirement for public sector first responders to report all suspected cases of human trafficking to the National Crime Agency. This will improve our understanding of the nature and scale of this crime and help strengthen our response.
The draft Bill will now go through a period of pre-legislative scrutiny during which time we expect further expert input. We expect the Bill to be published next spring and hopefully passed and placed on the statute books by the end of the parliament in 2015. The Bill will be only a first step in our ongoing fight against human trafficking. We are also developing a comprehensive action plan, including a number of non-legislative measures, for publication next spring. This will include specific measures for ensuring that victim protection remains at the heart of our human trafficking response. We will also be reviewing the operation of the National Referral Mechanism.
We look forward to continuing our cooperation with the Special Representative’s office in our efforts to respond to the abhorrent crime of human trafficking.
In concluding Mr Chairperson, I join others in thanking you, Special Representative Giamarrinaro, for your outstanding personal contribution over the last four years. Your input has enhanced, not only the OSCE’s role in the fight against human trafficking, but also wider international efforts as evidenced by your contribution to the UK’s draft Modern Slavery Bill. Thank you