24/03/2009

NI 'Slavery' Victims' Rescue Package Launched

Comprehensive care and support services for victims of human trafficking 'rescued' in Northern Ireland will be available from the beginning of next month.

"Human trafficking is modern day slavery. All the law enforcement agencies in the Organised Crime Task Force are working as one to catch the criminal gangs who are profiting out of human misery and suffering," said the Chair of the Organised Crime Task Force, Paul Goggins.

Announcing the new package of support for victims, many of whom are forced into prostitution, he said is it being funded by the Government with support from the police.

It will be delivered by Women's Aid Federation and The Migrant Helpline.

They will offer access to secure accommodation, healthcare and counselling for victims of human trafficking.

It will also provide assistance with living expenses and full access to legal advice and translation services.

The move is a response to the growing evidence of human trafficking locally after the 'Pentameter 2' operation and allows Northern Ireland to meet its obligations under the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings.

The Northern Ireland Office's Minister, Mr Goggins continued: "Northern Ireland is no longer immune from the vile crime of human trafficking.

"While the problem may not be as widespread as in other parts of the UK, Pentameter 2' and subsequent operations by law enforcement agencies in Northern Ireland have shown that people are being trafficked here for both sexual and labour exploitation.

"We are also committed to supporting the victims of human trafficking and the measures that I am introducing will deliver a victim led and comprehensive package of care and support services," he said.

The new services will be fully operational by April 1 and builds on support already available.

The full range of services will continue to ensure that all victims are treated with compassion and dignity and set standards for the support of victims

(BMcC/JM)

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