Today marks the fifth anniversary since the Northern Ireland Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act received Royal Assent.
This ground-breaking piece of anti-trafficking legislation focused on reducing demand for trafficking, effectively support victims and toughen up punishments for those guilty of these crimes.
Christian charity CARE acted as principle advisor to the Bill’s architect, Lord Morrow, as he brought the legislation through the NI Assembly.
Getting the Bill through the Assembly required many meetings, a willingness to work with NGOs, politicians from across the Assembly and with the then Justice Secretary David Ford.
The laws included the criminalisation of the purchase of sex, meaning NI is the first and so far, the only part of the UK to make buying sex illegal.
Today, CARE NI said the Morrow Bill showed what a positive difference Christians can make through positive, intelligent and constructive engagement in politics.
CARE NI Policy Officer, Mark Baillie, said:
“We consider it a privilege to have had the opportunity to work on this legislation with Lord Morrow and other parliamentarians across the House.
“No law is perfect and much comes down to the implementation of legislation, but we believe (and it is widely held) that this legislation has made a positive difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable people who find themselves here having been trafficked.
“In terms of the three aims of the legislation, the Act has made a beneficial impact and we hope this continues long in to the future.
“As the Assembly returns, it is worth remembering the difference it can make in the lives of vulnerable people.
“This Act showed that Christians can make a real difference if they intelligently and constructively engage in the political process.
“We at CARE hope to make a positive difference once again in this mandate and beyond working with parliamentarians across the political parties.”