The Scottish Government must today commit to strengthen its proposed criminal legislation on child trafficking if it wants to ensure children are protected from exploitation, ECPAT UK and more than six thousand followers have said in a petition handed over today. 

ECPAT UK is today due to hand over a petition to the co-convenors of the Scottish cross-party group on human trafficking, Christina McKelvie MSP and Jenny Marra MSP, outside the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh, before the final debate on the Human Trafficking & Exploitation (Scotland) Bill. 

Yet, ECPAT UK is still urging the Government to make sure its new legislation is as robust as possible by clarifying the criminal offence of slavery to ensure all forms of exploitation are covered and widening its proposed guardianship system to include all separated children, who are extremely vulnerable to trafficking. 

In addition, ECPAT UK is supporting amendments that will ensure even those children who are trafficked by their own parents are assigned an independent guardian to advocate for them and assist them in their recovery. 

Pressure from a campaign led by ECPAT UK, in partnership with Walk Free and Care, signed by over 6,000 people, has led the Government to concede on key campaign calls, including a clear provision to ensure that child victims are not prosecuted for crimes they are forced to commit by their traffickers, clarifying the vulnerability of children in the criminal offence and ensuring that guardians for trafficked children can advocate effectively by guaranteeing access to relevant information. 

Chloe Setter, Head of Advocacy, Policy & Campaigns at ECPAT UK, said: "This is a landmark opportunity for MSPs to pledge their support for children, who are the most vulnerable of all to human trafficking. We urge them to make sure Scotland's legislation is as strong as it can be to protect all children from exploitation and punish those who seek to abuse and enslave them."