Page last updated at 15:49 GMT, Monday, 27 February 2012

Human trafficking 1

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill led a debate on what he called "the most abhorrent and evil practices of which mankind is capable of" - the trafficking of human beings, on 29 February 2012.

Mr MacAskill accepted that given the covert nature of the crime it had been difficult to put a precise number on those affected by trafficking in Scotland.

From the latest National Referral Mechanism statistics available for Scotland, in the period April 2009 until 10 February 2012, two hundred and twenty eight (228) referrals were made and of those one hundred and twenty six (126) actual cases were confirmed as victims of trafficking.

The justice secretary said people should move on from looking to "prove" the scale of the issue to accepting that it exists and concentrating efforts to pursue the traffickers and supporting victims.

He welcomed the recent Equality and Human Rights Commission inquiry into human trafficking in Scotland . He also welcomed the Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People report entitled "Scotland a safe place for child traffickers?" .

Mr MacAskill said he accepted the principle of almost all of the recommendations directed towards government.

The justice secretary said he had not ruled out stand alone trafficking legislation in Scotland he said for now he could explore the possibility, suggested by the Lord Advocate, to introduce a statutory human trafficking criminal aggravation.

This would allow the trafficking aspect to be put before the courts where it is evidentially more appropriate to prosecute for other offences such as labour exploitation.

This could potentially be an important tool in improving the number of convictions for trafficking in Scotland.

Scottish Labour MSP Jenny Marra said making trafficking an aggravation was a simple measure which could be brought forward but also called on the government to look at a lesser burden of proof being required for a conviction.

The second part of the debate can be viewed below:

Human trafficking 2


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