Human trafficking, as well as trafficking of human organs, occurs not only occur in the poorest countries where, because of extreme poverty, many people become prey for criminal gangs. The practice is also widespread in the United Kingdom, where police are investigating the trafficking of foreign children for the purpose of extracting their organs, or subjecting them to sexual slavery.

The British government released a statement about a Somali girl who was abducted in her country of origin and taken to Britain to extract her organs and sell them on the black market. Since she was just one member of a group of Somalis brought into the UK illegally, it is feared that others may have succumbed to the extraction of their organs.

According to the Fides news service, traffickers take advantage of children in order to satisfy the demand for organs. End Child Prostitution Pornography And Trafficking (ECPAT), a nonprofit which defends the rights of children, reports that the number of victims of human trafficking in the United Kingdom has increased by more than 50% since last year. Police said that 371 children have been exploited as sex slaves. Most of them come from Vietnam, Nigeria, China, Romania and Bangladesh. The figure includes 20 young British children. 

According to the World Health Organization, at least 7,000 kidneys are harvested illegally each year. In India, there have emerged reports of mobile surgical units that prey upon the desperate poor who trade their organs for a pittance. In some cases, it is feared, organs are harvested from unwilling victims who are left to die. In China, human organs are frequently harvested from condemned criminals before their executions are carried out.

The British government announced plans in October 2013 to give human traffickers and modern day slavers a maximum sentence. A bill currently before parliament would establish an automatic life sentence for offenders who already have a conviction for a serious sexual or violent offence. Currently, the maximum sentence for trafficking is 14 years. Britain's crime and security minister, James Brokenshire said last month, "Modern slavery is an appalling evil in our midst."
 
As for the current legislation, he said "All this is a good start, but we need everyone to play a part - government, law enforcement, business, charities - if we are to consign slavery to the history books where it belongs." The bill, which has yet to be published in a draft form, would also introduce Trafficking Prevention Orders to restrict traffickers' activity and the movement of convicted traffickers.

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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