2022 Assembly


News from One of our Member Organisations: Medaille Trust in the UK


It was a great encouragement to receive the latest newsletter from Garry Smith and his team at the Medaille Trust. It is wonderful to hear about the work that is taking place in the safe houses and community outreach for victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.

It is so important that men and women who have experienced trauma through exploitation are supported and empowered to get involved in activities that bring value and worth, whether it is cooking or gardening, studying or volunteering.

The newsletter provides such wonderful stories and accounts of the work being done, progress and obstacles that have been overcome in caring for each of the clients under the care of the various teams throughout the UK.

Thank you Medaille for all that you are doing for those who need have found themselves in your care – for giving each one the experience of God’s great love.

Read more here:


Rising worry about risks to Vietnam’s ‘container people’ take for a new life in Europe


It is impossible to know how many people have died and been
discarded along the way, Tran Hoang Viet says.


A slew of raids in recent months conducted by German police and partnering authorities appear to be taking aim at Vietnamese smuggling and human trafficking networks operating in Germany and beyond. Meanwhile on France’s northern coast, the French government, with financial assistance from the United Kingdom, has doubled the number of patrols in response to migrants crossing the English Channel.
‘Large unknown dimension’

Police crime statistics show that violations by Vietnamese suspects against foreigner law provisions increased by 40% from 2018-2020, to a total of 2,887 suspects from 1,734, Chief Detective Nicole Baumann with the German Federal Police told RFA. The annual German Federal Situation Snapshot on Organized Crime in 2019 pointed to nine crime organizations led by Vietnamese nationals, linked to crimes like people smuggling, drug trafficking, and property and wage theft.
At a conference this month reviewing modern slavery in Vietnam, the International Organization for Migration’s Vietnam Chief of Mission Parak Mihyung noted that “COVID-19 has worsened poverty and severely impacted vulnerable communities” and migrants are much more likely to become victims of labour and sexual exploitations as economic prospects worsen (VN Express).

Coached to keep quiet
Authorities and anti-slavery advocates have noted the difficulty in getting victims of exploitation, whether it be sexual or labour, to testify against their perpetrators.
Kevin Hyland, a former Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner for the United Kingdom who now serves as a member of the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Actions against Trafficking (GRETA) says that as Vietnamese migrants make their way through Europe, the longer their journey, the more debt they incur and the greater their vulnerability becomes.
“What was very clear was as they got further down the line, their exploitation got worse and worse and worse, so they became very, very emotionally damaged and psychologically damaged. But they still would not want to reach out for help because they still felt the pull or the control that could come from Vietnam, from the original people they had to pay the fee to get the job, was greater than their willingness to engage with the authorities.”

International News relating to Trafficking in Europe


On December 15th a news report was published by the Council of Europe about the introduction of a National Referral Mechanism framework in the Middle East and North Africa. It is important that the links between the ongoing work in Europe and other parts of the world are understood, as many individuals who are trafficked and exploited in Europe originate from other continents. As a transit and source country Tunisia was invited by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to adhere to the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings in 2018.

Based on a human rights approach to detect and identify human trafficking victims  and to refer them to appropriate services that can ensure support adapted to their  needs, the establishment of NRMs is one of the key recommendations of the Council  of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings [1]. It provides a  platform for multi-sectoral co-operation enabling all competent institutions to better  protect the human rights of victims, taking into consideration the specific needs of  women and children. 

It is aimed at professionals – from public officials and members of civil society, to  representatives of international organisations and the media – who work directly or  indirectly to help victims of human trafficking. The NRM was launched on 15 December  during a hybrid conference held online and at the Municipality of Tunis. Among those  attending are Raoudha Laabidi, President of the National Body for Combating  Trafficking in Persons, Marcus Cornaro, Ambassador of the European Union to Tunisia,  Pilar Morales, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Tunisia and representatives of  ministries, independent and governmental bodies, civil society, international  organisations, experts and legal professionals from countries of the Southern  Mediterranean region and sub-Saharan Africa. victims-of-human-trafficking

Exploring the extent of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking between Ireland and the United Kingdom; through the lens of Organised Crime


On December 8th SAR Consultancy in Ireland hosted a very informative online seminar as part of the  Irish Security Series at which the subject was modern slavery and human trafficking within Ireland  and the UK.

The event was chaired by Dr James Windle – Director of Criminology – UCC  Department of Sociology and Criminology. Four experts in the field were invited to speak  and very eloquently shared from their perspectives of law enforcement, academia and global  leadership about the current issues and challenges in the fight against this very serious  crime.  

The panel included : 

  • Dr Carole Murphy – Acting Director, Bakhita Centre for Research on Slavery, Exploitation and Abuse (BCRSEA) – St. Marys University, UK
  • Dr Cliodhna Murphy – Associate Professor – Maynooth University
  • Assistant Commissioner Anne Marie Cagney, An Garda Síochána
  • Kevin Hyland OBE, former United Kingdom’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner,

Throughout the seminar the audience heard about the crimes recorded, cases brought to trial and  victims who have been helped, as well as research initiatives that are currently underway,  specifically looking at the care for British nationals in the UK within the National Referral Mechanism  and pathways to support.  

As neighbours, the UK and island of Ireland share many of the same concerns around the  exploitation of men, women and children in forced labour situations, such as the fishing industry in  Ireland, car washes, the cleaning and care sectors and other areas, as well as forced criminality  through drug cultivation, distribution and dealing. Sexual exploitation is also a reality both sides of  the Irish Sea. In the UK the prevalence of ‘county lines’ continues to be a huge concern to police,  local authorities and civil society.  

In Ireland the Garda currently has over 100 suspects and crimes being investigated. Assistant  Commissioner Cagney stated that “trafficking into the Republic was being driven by an “increased  demand for cheap labour and sexual services”. Irish “society needs to understand that trafficking in  human beings generates profits”. The darknet and internet strengthened the capability of crimes  gangs involved in trafficking. It also offered them anonymity which was “the perfect ground for  human traffickers” as it allowed them to operate “in the shadows”.  

Kevin Hyland OBE shared about a case in which a woman who was trafficked into the Republic was  then caught with 1 million Euro worth of drugs and initially held in custody. “The organised criminals  behind [these crimes] – the ones who rented the premises, the ones who organised the €1 million  worth of drugs – these are not Vietnamese nationals. Some of them, it’s believed, are foreign  nationals and most of them are believed to be Irish nationals.” 


2021 Appraisal of the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons


At the end of November delegates at a high-level meeting of the General Assembly appraised the progress achieved in the implementation of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, which was adopted in 2010. This appraisal takes place every four years and provides an opportunity to acknowledge achievements and reflect on existing gaps and challenges.

The 2021 event reiterated that trafficking in persons can occur in every region of the world and can take many forms. Women and children, particularly girls, are amongst the most vulnerable persons to be trafficked, especially for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Social media and online platforms are increasingly used by traffickers to identify and recruit victims and advertise services provided by victims. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened economic and social inequalities that are among the root causes of human trafficking.

Speaking at the High-Level Meeting on the Appraisal of the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, called for international cooperation and data collection on human trafficking in order to evaluate the progress made and the remaining gaps on the objectives that underpin it.

He noted that despite the increasing number of states that have developed national data collection systems on trafficking in persons in the past decades, world data is still limited and that weakens more effective international action. Archbishop Caccia then noted that partnerships among States and stakeholders have been strengthened, giving a basis for concerted work that must always be enhanced. In this regard, he stressed the need for cooperation between local authorities, national governments and faith-based organizations, holding up the example of Talitha Kum present in 92 countries and on 6 continents, which has helped address root causes of trafficking and collaborates with law enforcement authorities in the fight against the scourge.

Concluding, the Archbishop restated the Holy See’s commitment to playing its role in preventing, denouncing and combatting trafficking, and in “promoting a model of cooperation based on fraternity, solidarity, and commitment capable of remedying the globalization of indifference in which human trafficking thrives.” trafficking-in-persons.html

School psychologists and pedagogues in North Macedonia increase their knowledge on conducting interviews with potential child trafficking victims


In North Macedonia, the statistics show that between 2017 and 2020, 75% of all identified victims were children, mostly trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation, but also for forced marriages and for the purpose of labour exploitation. To support the identification and referral of such cases, the training on interviewing child potential victims of trafficking organised by the EU and Council of Europe action on “Preventing and Combating Human Trafficking in North Macedonia” in co-operation with the Bureau for Development of Education, provided to 30 school psychologists and pedagogues from Skopje and Bitola key knowledge and information on this topic.

As a result of the successful and continuous cooperation between the joint EU and Council of Europe action on Preventing and Combating Human Trafficking in North Macedonia and the Bureau for Development of Education all the primary and secondary schools in North Macedonia have received training and education materials on preventing and combating child trafficking in multiple languages, as well as on-line trainings on the same topic.

This activity was organised within the framework of the action on Preventing and Combating Human Trafficking in North Macedonia, which is part of the European Union / Council of Europe programme Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey II aiming at assisting beneficiaries in the Western Balkans and Turkey to comply with the Council of Europe standards and European Union acquis in the framework of the enlargement process.

The action on “Preventing and Combating Human Trafficking in North Macedonia” is implemented within the joint programme of the European Union and the Council of Europe “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019-2022”.

What is the goal?

The Action Preventing and Combating Human Trafficking in North Macedonia supports the authorities in North Macedonia in improving the identification, protection of, and assistance to victims of human trafficking, in line with the European standards, as stipulated in the recommendations resulting from the monitoring of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.

Who benefits from the Action?

key beneficiary institutions, including: National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Illegal Migration, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and State Labour Inspectorate, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health
civil society organisations and selected public/private sector actors (Chamber of Commerce, Agrotrade Union)
communities at risk from human trafficking (including victims of human trafficking and their families)
public at large

How will the Action work?

The Action will support the authorities in preventing and combating trafficking in human beings, by providing expert advice, raising capacities and supporting key stakeholders in their efforts. In this framework the Action will concretely focus on:

  • legislative interventions, policy and research support;
  • multi-disciplinary trainings for key actors;
  • seminars and workshops with partner institutions;

awareness raising and informative events for the public;

Expected results:

Expected results from the project are:

  • detection and identification of, and assistance to victims of human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation will be improved;
  • detection and identification of, and protection of child victims of human trafficking will be strengthened;
  • access to compensation for victims of human trafficking will be improved;
  • all the actors in the field of combatting human trafficking, and the general public at large, will be more informed and aware about specific vulnerabilities to trafficking situations and the rights of trafficked persons.


RENATE Network comments on the impact of Part 4 of the Nationality and Borders bill on survivors of Trafficking in England & Wales


This bill is making its way through Parliament in England, key debate is happening this week – write to your MP!

The Nationality and Borders Bill is currently making its way through the House of Commons and is in the committee stage where the bill is debated and amendments proposed. The government are hoping it will be approved ‘at a pace’.
The bill as a whole is generally very bad news for asylum seekers and victims of modern slavery.

Modern slavery legislation in England and Wales is primarily through the Modern Slavery Act (MSA) 2015. It is therefore not appropriate, in Renate’s opinion, that modern slavery forms any part of this new immigration bill that seeks, among other things to penalise Victims of Trafficking (VoT) due to their immigration status (clauses 46,47,51,54,55) creating a two tier system where Victims of Trafficking with immigration issues will have a more onerous time proving they are VoT.

Victims of trafficking are first and foremost victims of crime, at least 34% referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) in England and Wales in 2020 being British nationals where immigration issues do not feature at all, additionally over 60% of all referrals to the UK NRM last year, state their exploitation happened in the UK only, why should the majority of victims be negatively impacted due to their immigration status when the crime happened in the UK?

There are 9 key clauses in Part 4 of this bill which impact survivors of Trafficking.  The majority (7) have a serious negative impact and 2 provide some hope of positive impact.

Survivors of Trafficking will be negatively impacted by Clause 49 – a reduction in the Period of Reflection and Recovery. It is well documented that victims of trafficking struggle to ‘tell their story’ once rescued and can take many months if not years for the full horror of their exploitation to be known. In 2015 the MSA was enacted giving victims 45 days of reflection and recovery. This was never long enough and Lord McColl launched the Victims Support Bill from the House of Lords in January 2019, with a key element extending this period of recovery to one year. Many prominent conservatives like Iain Duncan Smith were key supporters of this Bill, but it has stalled and not made any notable passage since the start of COVID. In practice though this 1 year period has been adopted.

The Nationality and Borders bill REDUCES the period of recovery to 30 days.
Many victims will be unable to give details about their ordeal in this short period of time meaning decisions on whether they will receive a positive conclusive grounds decision will become less likely – 89% were given a positive conclusive grounds decision in 2020 , this proposed reduction in recovery period very likely will reduce this number significantly.
Clause 48 in the new bill changes the basis on how conclusive grounds decisions are made. At the moment decisions are made based on a ‘reasonable degree of likelihood’ that trafficking has happened – this is a relatively low threshold to achieve. The Bill proposes that decisions should now be made on the ‘balance of probabilities’ meaning at least a 51% evidential threshold would need to be met – again this will significantly impact the number in the NRM getting positive conclusive grounds decisions
Added to this, the Bill proposes to introduce only 1 period of refection and recovery meaning re-trafficked victims will now not be eligible for any time to reflect and recover.

A 2021 report published by the Modern Slavery Policy & Evidence Centre showed strong evidence that good and early access to legal advice for VoT reduces the likelihood of re-trafficking.
Accessing good legal advice for VoT is a lottery in England and Wales.
Legal aid is available to VoT but to access it is often very difficult and it is only available through organisations with an immigration legal aid contract (currently only 248 in England & Wales which is heavily London centric).
One of the few positive clauses in the Bill is regarding the provision of legal aid for VoT (clause 54 and 55) where up to 7 hours add on provision of legal advice is available to help possible VoT decide whether or not to enter the NRM, however this is contingent on the claimant already in receipt of (immigration) leave to remain/enter advice. Over half of NRM referrals have no obvious immigration claim so would not have access to this pre-NRM advice
The impact of this positive clause is therefore likely to be very small despite access to legal aid being one of the bigger more important issues for VoT, this is an opportunity lost to address this issue.

There are many other areas of Part 4 that will seriously affect survivors and RENATE are watching with interest what amendments might be tabled in the hope that significant change can be made to this and other parts of the Bill before it is enacted.

Annie Bannister
Member of RENATE Network

EMPACT activities throughout Europe


From November 8-12, a large-scale international action against trafficking in human beings took place throughout out 29 countries in Europe, led by Austria and Romania, and coordinated by Europol and Frontex. 

The activities saw more than 14,000 law enforcement officers target trafficking routes on roads and at airports. 

This resulted in 212 arrests and the identification of a further 89 trafficking suspects.

The action days aimed to combat human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, forced criminality and forced begging. Europol coordinated the five action days from its 24-hour operational center, which provided the participant countries with information crosschecking, secure communication channels, and a range of analytical capabilities throughout the operation. 

The operation took place under the umbrella of the EMPACT security mechanism/framework.

The action days sought to identify and arrest human trafficking suspects as they transited across Europe, as well as to identify and protect trafficking victims and prevent associated document fraud. Europol coordinated national police, passenger information units, border guards and national agencies that counter human trafficking. Together they created a tight net around trafficking routes, with national police and border agents performing roadside checks, while the passenger information units checked airline passengers.


Law enforcement also targeted a wide range of possible locations for human traffickers, such as bars, brothels, nightclubs, nail bars, massage studios, and strip clubs. This diverse range of target areas was the result of intelligence showing that traffickers were deploying multiple methods for recruiting their victims, such as the ‘lover boy’ method and threats of violence against victims’ relatives.