The attorney general is to examine whether trafficked children involved in UK court proceedings should be appointed a guardian to respresent their best interests.
It follows a parliamentary question asked by Labour MP, Lisa Nandy , former policy director at The Children’s Society.
The Wigan MP asked the attorney general if he was aware that solicitors often face problems taking instructions from child victims of trafficking who wrongly believe that their trafficker is their friend. Currently, solicitors are required to take instructions from children, regardless of whether they know them to be false.
If the government is serious about ensuring that more perpetrators of child trafficking are caught and prosecuted, Nandy said, ministers must ensure that every child who goes through the “gruelling” court process is afforded a guardian to represent his or her best interests.
The solicitor-general, the law officer appointed to assist the attorney seneral, promised Nandy he would “make inquiries of the Crown Prosecution Service to establish what assistance of the sort can be given”.
Nandy said: “I have seen for myself cases where nine-year-olds have ‘instructed’ solicitors that they want to live with their daddy, or uncle or whoever and that solicitor is forced to go into court and make that case, knowing that the daddy or uncle is in fact the person who has trafficked and is abusing that child. What is so clearly needed is an independent person who is put in place to look out for the child’s best interests, not merely to take legal instruction.
“I have been campaigning for guardians to be established for many years and I am pleased that the government has agreed to look into it. I will, of course, follow it up and keep pushing for greater protection of some of the most vulnerable and abused children in society.”
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