World Day against human trafficking

Today is World Day against Trafficking in Persons, a day to raise awareness of the situation facing victims of human trafficking, the illegal trade of human beings for exploitation, and for the promotion and protection of their rights.

Human trafficking knows no borders, making it more difficult for authorities to detect the crime and catch the criminals behind it.

The Scottish Government has taken a welcome lead on this issue, passing the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill in the last Parliamentary term, strengthening the rights of victims of trafficking, and by developing Scotland’s first strategy to tackle this disgraceful practice.

The European Arrest Warrant has also been instrumental in ensuring those that participate in the trafficking of persons are brought to justice, with cross border co-operation vital in catching those responsible and helping to allow vulnerable people to escape from deeply dangerous situations.

While good progress is being made, it is essential that we continue to cooperate across the EU on police and justice issues.

By Christina McKelvie

Here’s what action the Scottish Government is taking to tackle this inhumane practice.


We have created specific human trafficking offence and have introduced life sentences for traffickers.

The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 has for the first time introduced a new single human trafficking offence to ensure that those responsible for human trafficking and exploitation are brought to justice.

The Scottish Government is committed to working at a UK and EU level to tackle this cross-border issue.

Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, is a member of the the UK Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group which has responsibility for the oversight of UK-wide strategy on tackling human trafficking.

The Scottish Government also remains committed to working with our European partners to root out those responsible for this inhumane trade through measures such as the European Arrest Warrant.

We have strengthened the rights of victims of trafficking.

The SNP, in government, created a legal requirement for a child victim of trafficking who has no-one with parental responsibilities to get an independent trafficking guardian. We have also given adult victims of trafficking rights to access support and assistance, in line with those already in place for children.

The SNP government is developing Scotland’s first Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy.

We know that legislation alone will not stop trafficking. That’s why the Scottish Government is developing Scotland’s first Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy. The Scottish Government brought together organisations earlier this year to contribute to the Strategy and discussed issues such as raising awareness of trafficking and addressing its root causes.