Law Centre (NI) in protection call over children at risk

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The Law Centre (NI) has called for urgent action to protect children at risk of trafficking and exploitation

Following on from  the finding by BBC NI’s Spotlight programme that eight separated children went missing in Northern Ireland since 2005, Law Centre (NI) has called for independent guardians to be put in place urgently.

A separated child is a child who has come to Northern Ireland without a parent or legal guardian.

Law Centre (NI) understands that the Health Board has taken measures to ensure that unaccompanied children subject to immigration control are now better protected. However, the Law Centre believes that all separated children should have access to independent legal guardians and calls on the Department for Health to put this in place urgently.

Law Centre (NI) head of policy Ursula O’Hare said: “One child going missing is one too many. While Independent Guardianship cannot offer a guarantee against children going missing, we believe guardians will go towards minimising the risk of this happening”

Independent Guardianship is a ground breaking provision of the anti-trafficking legislation, the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015. Unfortunately, this provision has not yet been implemented.

Ursula O’Hare added: “We owe it to these extremely vulnerable children to ensure that Northern Ireland’s laws do not just sit on the statute books but are instead implemented and made a reality.”

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