Human rights in the UK: Universal Periodic Review, 2017 – Scottish Government position

Scottish Government position statement on Scotland’s performance against key international human rights obligations.

2. Combating human trafficking

The Scottish Government held a Human Trafficking Summit in October 2012, which led to the development of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015. [27] Among other things, the Act consolidates and strengthens criminal law against human trafficking and exploitation. The offences in the Act now carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. It also introduces trafficking and exploitation prevention and risk orders. The Act also takes forward improved protection for victims, through the Lord Advocate's instructions on the presumption against the prosecution of victims of trafficking and exploitation in certain circumstances, and by placing a duty on Scottish Ministers to provide support and assistance for adult victims of human trafficking.

The first provisions came into force on 31 May 2016 and most of the remaining provisions will do so later in 2017. Children are supported through the child protection system and eligible children are given the additional support of an independent child trafficking guardian. The 2015 Act also requires the development of a Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy, which is to be laid before the Scottish Parliament by 31 May 2017 and to be reviewed every three years. A draft strategy has been produced by working closely with stakeholders, including victims of trafficking and exploitation.

The Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 [28] obliges Police Scotland to direct victims of crime towards the Victims' Code for Scotland, [29] which contains information about compensation and is available in a number of languages. In addition, victim support organisations routinely assist victims in understanding the support that may be available. In Scotland, the position of victims of trafficking in criminal proceedings and their access to legal aid is no different to that of other victims of crime with an interest in a criminal case. Access to legal aid on some human trafficking matters is not contingent on formal recognition of victim status. Beyond the provision of legal aid, assistance can be provided through grant funding programmes. An assessment of the provision of legal aid to victims of trafficking was recently carried out by the Scottish Legal Aid Board ( SLAB).


Email: David Holmes

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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