30/04/2013

NI Human Trafficking Law Receives Royal Assent

New legislation to prevent human trafficking in Northern Ireland has received Royal Assent.

The Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2013 will see the law on sex offender notification changed in Northern Ireland, bringing it in line with with the criminal aspects of the EU Directive on preventing and combating human trafficking.

Traffickers operating internally within the United Kingdom will no longer be immune from prosecution in Northern Ireland, while offences prosecuted will now be triable on indictment only, allowing a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment.

Justice Minister David Ford said: "Members across the Assembly were united in their condemnation of the abhorrent practice of human trafficking. I share their determination that it should be allowed no foothold nor purchase within Northern Ireland. The provisions made under this Bill will reinforce our stance against this heinous crime."

The Act provides for the establishment of a new framework for the retention, use and destruction of fingerprints and DNA samples and profiles.

It will mean about one fifth of the DNA records currently held relating to persons who have not been convicted, will be destroyed.

Minister Ford added: "These arrangements are in keeping with the recommendation of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which emphasises the need to discriminate between different kinds of cases and for the application of strictly defined storage periods for data, even in more serious cases.

"They provide a targeted retention system based on risk and, I believe, will provide the police with the means to protect the public without keeping the DNA of a large number of innocent people on the database."

The Act also removes the power of the Justice Minister to release, set licence conditions for and recall to custody a child subject to determinate detention orders.

Instead this will be determined by the sentencing court and the Parole Commissioners.

It also provides for the examination of an accused person through a registered intermediary, it abolishes the offence of scandalising the judiciary as a form of contempt of court and provides for magistrates’ courts to sit on a Sunday in exceptional circumstances.

(IT/CD)

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