As Lord Morrow’s Bill becomes law today, Gemma Brown looks at what happens next, and how you can be a part of it.
The majority* of Lord Morrow’s Bill comes into effect today, 1st June 2015.
*some secondary legislation still needs to be put in place and some parts will need to keep pace with other jurisdictions.
It’s the result of three years of conversation, research, compromise. We remember sitting in the Senate Chamber in October 2012 – what a significant journey it has been since. The discussion around the Bill has often been heated – and hopefully has raised important points that have caused people in Northern Ireland to consider how best to relate to the most vulnerable in our society.
The Bill is part of a wider UK initiative to strength UK law on trafficking. With the introduction of The Modern Slavery Bill and its implementation through the vehicle of Lord Morrow’s Bill, as well as some clauses specific to Northern Ireland, we are now aiming to make the country safe for victims, and unwelcoming of traffickers. You can find out more about the legislative framework here by clicking on this link.
The most contentious part of Lord Morrow’s Bill is the criminalisation of the purchase of sex; and due to the diverse and inclusive nature of No More Traffik, we have not taken an official stance on this – though everyone is very welcome to ask individuals within the organisation to share their thoughts.
Our concern has always been, and will always be, the prevention, interruption and cessation of the exploitation of the vulnerable through human trafficking. We are keen to keep bringing the conversation back to this; and we recognise that no matter what our laws say, we cannot solely rely on them to bring about change.
Instead, we see in the community around us the potential for lasting change – and we make three promises today:
We will continue to nurture the growth of local community groups across Northern Ireland, meeting our aim of at least one group in each Super Council by 2017. These groups are run by volunteers who are thoughtful, enthusiastic, progressive, connected, and open. They carry in them the sustainability of the anti-trafficking movement in Northern Ireland.
We will continue to work with people who implement legislation by delivering training, exploring and researching trends, and providing appropriate, accurate and helpful information. Currently, No More Traffik trains every new PSNI recruit, as well as medical staff, legal practitioners, social workers, clergy, and other members of society. We will continue to identify and help to equip those on the frontline.
We will continue to partner with other agencies and organisations in Northern Ireland such as the Department of Justice, service providers and other charities to strengthen our local approach; and with our global partners to share best practice, learn from each other, and address human trafficking as an international problem.
Finally, we ask you to partner with us.
No matter what the law says, we need to grow and harvest a culture in Northern Ireland that is welcoming and affirming of human value; not one that exploits for personal gain, or disregards the humanity of The Other. Let’s work on that together: buy products that are certified, explore ‘why’ human trafficking might thrive in your community, strengthen your network, look out for the vulnerable, talk to others about human trafficking and its impact on people, treat each other well.
And join us. Come be a part of one of our community groups, or get in touch to see how you might volunteer with a particular aspect of our work.