By Terry Vanderheyden

BELFAST, February 23, 2006 ( – A Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly is condemning a proposed amnesty by police for prostitution offenders. The measure would provide men who visit prostitutes amnesty from prosecution in exchange for information on women who were possible victims of sex trafficking.

Dr Esmond Birnie, Ulster Unionist Party MLA for South Belfast, condemned the plan by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) that has promised men who exploit women for paid sex to “escape prosecution so long as they call the police afterwards.”

“The victims of traffickers deserve better and do not distinguish between the foreign pimps who organize the exploitation and the British men who take advantage of their enslaved circumstances,” Dr. Birnie stated in a release. “The UUP opposes a ‘rape amnesty’ in relation to sex slavery.”

“This ACPO idea is as ill-advised as the paedophile ‘hard disk’ amnesty the ACPO were trying to sell to the British public only a few years ago,” he added. “I was at that time (December, 2003) asked to oppose any notion of a ‘hard disk’ amnesty for paedophiles.” The ACPO told BBC News in 2003 that it thought a hard drive amnesty is a ‘good idea’ for offenders in possession of low grade paedophilia.

“The ACPO were thankfully forced by public opinion to do a volte-face on their ridiculous policy for a kid-gloves approach to paedophilia,” the release adds. “The ‘hotline for punters (men who have sex with prostitutes)’ idea has been tried before in other countries and it has always resulted in sanctioned or ‘forgiven’ involuntary sexual activity and child sex abuse.”

Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition director Gregory Carlin told, “The ACPO idea that a man paying to have sex at a brothel will have a crisis of conscience and call a crime hotline if confronted by a victim of sex trafficking, is not a statistically promising expectation.”

“The philosophy is a retail variation of the pimp as social worker theme,” Carlin added. “The typical clients are the type of men for whom the abuse of a teenager constitutes a satisfying sexual encounter. The ACPO may have a solitary case which differed from the general trend.”



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