Thursday, November 22, 2007

Scotland Provides Support to Trafficking Victims to Encourage Pursuit of Legal Cases

Source: Corbis

A month ago I wrote a post on Australia's anti-trafficking law and the lack of support it provides to victims. I'm glad to see Scotland taking the opposite approach and offering temporary residence, stipends, etc to victims if they cooperate with the police on their investigations. The law is beneficial for both parties: victims receive the counseling, housing and support they deserve and law enforcement gets assistance putting traffickers behind bars.


Four human trafficking victims who were forced to work as "sex slaves" in Edinburgh have vanished before their tormentors could be caught and prosecuted.

The women all disappeared within days of being freed from their ordeals. The move is a blow to police efforts to bring the criminal gangs behind the trade to justice. But steps have now been taken to encourage future victims to stay in Edinburgh and give evidence against the human trafficking gangs.

The victims, usually poverty-stricken immigrants forced to work as prostitutes, are to be offered free housing and other benefits in return for helping the authorities with their investigations. They will be offered basic living expenses of £50-a-week, legal advice, psychological counselling and health care, as well as accommodation, for up to a year.

Previously, if they were illegal immigrants, they faced the threat of immediate deportation.

Last year, Lothian and Borders Police was involved in a national initiative - Operation Pentameter - to tackle human trafficking. More than 70 potential victims in towns and cities across the UK were rescued in the three-month operation. The true extent of the problem in Edinburgh is unknown, but police chiefs have previously stated their belief that people-smuggling gangs are active in the city.

Read the full article


  1. The only problem is that when you make aid to victims contingent on cooperation in a trial, you're forcing victims into a corner even if they feel threatened by their trafficker, which only re-traumatizes the victim. Another way of handling it is giving the victim a recovery and reflection period of 30 to 90 days where they receive services and treatment in a safe environment in and where they can consider testifying.

  2. Anonymous4:56 PM

    Great point, at no part of the rehabilitation process should a victim feel pressured to do something. Do they have programs with a recovery and reflection period of 30 to 90 days in the Ukraine? The Philippines is generally a source country for trafficking victims, thus issues of deportation generally do not arise since local trafficking cases involve rural to urban migration. When international trafficking occurs it is predominantly from the Philippines to another destination.