I do not want to doubt the deep personal commitment of the prime minister, Theresa May, or the home secretary, Amber Rudd, towards the eradication of slavery in the UK and across the world. But I am afraid I must take exception to Amber Rudd’s remarks on closing the Dubs scheme to resettle unaccompanied minors, after accepting only 350 of them. Ms Rudd stated that British and French authorities feared that the existence of the Dubs scheme was “a pull factor” for refugee children to head to Britain and provided opportunities for people traffickers.
Such opportunities already abound as a result of the sorry mess of the European policy response to the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. The Dubs scheme is a small beacon of humanity in the midst of this mess, providing safety and protection to children who would otherwise be vulnerable to trafficking.
The UK government has repeatedly confused the issues of people smuggling and human trafficking, something that is unhelpful in dealing with either phenomenon. People smuggling relates to entering countries irregularly. Human trafficking is the process of delivering people into forced labour or sexual exploitation.
As far back as 2006, Anti-Slavery International identified how people trafficked into western Europe often entered perfectly legally, but then had their migration status made irregular by their traffickers. In turn this reduces their options for protection and support, as seeking such help could result in…