The Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings came into force in the UK on 1 April 2009 and the UK is bound by its provisions. It includes a number of provisions to protect and promote the rights of victims and specific child victim provisions.
Main articles of the convention
Article Summary of provisions
10 – Identification of the victim – no removal until identification is complete
10(3) – When age uncertain presumed to be a child pending verification of age
10(4) – Child victim provide legal guardian which will act in the best interest of the child
12 – Assistance to victims
13 – Recovery and reflection period
14 – Residence permits
15 – Compensation and legal redress
The stated purpose of the convention is to prevent, protect and prosecute.
In order to achieve this, Article 1 of the convention envisages a multi-agency approach to identification to victims and combating trafficking.
Particularly relevant articles:
- Article 10(3): where age of the child is unclear the child should be given the benefit of doubt, presumed to be a child with special protection whilst his or her age is verified.
Particularly important since many trafficked children are brought into the UK with the use of documents which attribute a greater date of birth making them significantly older. (see Age Disputes below)
- Article 10(4): as soon as an unaccompanied child is identified as a victim, each Party shall a) provided for representation of the child to be a legal guardian, organisation or authority which shall act in the best interest of the child.
ECPAT UK is campaigning for a system of guardianship for child victims of trafficking, having found, amongst other issues, about 60% of suspected child victims in local authority care go missing and are not subsequently found.
A second, government-commissioned, pilot of independent child trafficking advocates is currently underway in England & Wales.