STOP THE TRAFFIK Response to the proposed Illegal Migration Bill 2023

Earlier this week, the government introduced proposed new legislation aimed at stopping small boats crossing the Channel from France.

According to the plan, asylum seekers arriving via small boats will be detained and removed to their home country if officials deem it safe to do so, or a third “safe country” such as Rwanda. Every person seeking protection from modern slavery or human trafficking (MSHT) arriving in the UK will be severely impacted by this legislation.

At STOP THE TRAFFIK, we operate a data-driven, evidence-led approach. We believe the key to stopping trafficking is undermining the traffickers’ business model.

This means developing the richest picture of how people traffickers are operating globally. By creating this picture, we are understanding how traffickers recruit vulnerable people, sustain and grow demand and successfully move the billions of proceeds of crime.

As in previous statements, we reiterate that this is a proven strategy which helps keep vulnerable communities safe and can only be achieved by collaboration across civil society actors, commercial and financial, law enforcement and government.

That is not an optional extra, but essential to the transforming power of systemic networks. Traffickers share what they know, they connect and have highly organised networks. We need to be better.

This is reflected and evidenced in the work we have been doing, for example, over the past 14 months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, our response to the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, and in regions of the UK.

STOP THE TRAFFIK calls for a greater use of evidence to truly appreciate the nuance of this complex issue and protect those who are vulnerable.

We reiterate that we must be careful with our language and definitions used to describe exploitative crimes. Conflation further confuses and distorts. In order to bring safety, hope and choice to those who have been exploited, we must be led by the power of survivors’ stories to lead our strategy.

We must maintain our focus on the criminals, look at the evidence, disrupt the business model and lay out a comprehensive plan to support vulnerable people. We remain committed to work in partnership with any actor, sector and all political parties to truly create lasting systemic change.

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