Members of Parliament are expected to scrutinise and approve national and European legislation, yet most have had little contact with NGOs, police and other law enforcement agencies that come into direct contact with either the victims of human trafficking or the criminals who are benefiting from this modern day slavery.
Increasingly European obligations on prosecution, protection and prevention require national Parliaments to facilitate cross border cooperation, collaboration on data collection and specialist victim services, all requiring budget allocations and often new legislation. Parliamentarians need information and contacts both in their own country and others, in order to champion the fight against human trafficking and to hold their executives to account.
In 2006 ECPAT UK was invited to advise the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking. The success of this partnership led to a joint pilot project (2008 – 2010) to scope the need for a European network of Parliamentarians and NGOs working on human trafficking. ECPAT UK staff and British Parliamentarians travelled to 15 countries meeting with Parliamentarians, law enforcement and NGOs. The pilot finished with Members of Parliament pledging support and asking for regular contact and more detailed information on human trafficking to assist them in participating in national and regional dialogue.