In the early hours of Tuesday morning (21 October) the Northern Ireland Assembly voted to create a statutory system of specialist guardians for children who have been trafficked.
Part of Lord Morrow’s Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Further Provisions and Support for Victims) Bill, this clause will ensure that children who have been trafficked will receive support from an independent specialist guardian who will guide and accompany them and advocate for their best interests.
Children who have been trafficked find themselves in a very vulnerable position. They face a complex and confusing range of different officials and processes that they must navigate as they begin their recovery. Even after they have been brought to safety they are at great risk of re-trafficking. Many children are deceived, manipulated and threatened by their traffickers and can often go missing from local authority care, often ending up in further exploitation. In this situation the specialist guardian will be one constant and consistent support to the individual child, helping them to understand the processes that they go through. Guardian systems are recommended internationally, and were supported by the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY). A report published earlier this year for NICCY described …read more