Justice Minister David Ford has urged people to be aware of the signs of human trafficking and report any suspicions.
To highlight EU Anti Trafficking Day (October 18), the Mid Ulster Mail is publishing the appeal from Mr Ford for people to look out for tell-tale signs.
David Ford said: “EU Anti Trafficking Day reminds us that human trafficking is a dreadful crime which has a devastating impact on its victims.
“I am encouraged by the determination of our voluntary sector partners to help combat trafficking.
“It is clear that there is a growing awareness of this crime and a willingness to help fight it among the public. It is vital that everyone remains vigilant to the signs and reports any suspicions to the police or the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.”
The Department’s Engagement Group on Human Trafficking is working to build a partnership approach and joint working among Government Departments, statutory bodies and civil society groups.
Various events have been planned to mark EU Anti Trafficking Day including the launch of a children’s animation film, and awareness events for frontline professionals. Faith groups across Northern Ireland will be encouraged to get involved in ‘Freedom Sunday’ on 19 October.
The Justice Minister also contributed to a statement which was published collectively by the UK-wide Ministerial Group on Modern Slavery earlier this week.
This statement included an update on the work that has been driven forward in Northern Ireland over the past twelve months to tackle human trafficking and slavery, focusing in particular on planned legislative changes.
In addition, David Ford has welcomed the Home Secretary’s recent proposal to add a clause to the Modern Slavery Bill which would require businesses, above a certain size threshold, to disclose each year what they have done to ensure that there is no modern slavery in their supply chains.
He said: “I believe that this is an important provision that would help to address demand for human trafficking and slavery victims. I would support the extension of this provision to Northern Ireland, subject to the legislative consent of the Assembly, and I will explore this further with Ministerial colleagues and the Justice Committee.”