The Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) Wednesday expressed concern over the UK’s Illegal Migration Bill, saying the legislation didn’t comply with “core elements” of the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. The Bill provides for the detainment and expulsion of all those people who arrive in the UK in breach of immigration control and who do not come from a country where their life and liberty are threatened on grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. This would include victims of human trafficking and modern slavery.
The GRETA group echoed concerns originally raised by the UNHCR and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. Joining those groups, GRETA urged the UK to uphold its international obligations and reconsider the provisions of the Bill to combat human trafficking.
“The new legislation would constitute a significant step backwards in the fight against human trafficking and modern slavery in the United Kingdom,” GRETA emphasized, “and risks undoing many of the country’s significant achievements in this area, by making it harder to identify victims, prosecute traffickers and combat human trafficking.”
Many critics have focused on the Bill’s modern slavery measures. The Modern Slavery Policy and Evidence Centre (MSPEC) says the bill is incompatible with the UK’s obligations under Article 4 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which prohibits slavery and forced labor and is part of UK law under the Human Rights Act of 1998.