Although Dr Ellison's article acknowledged that trafficking is a 'heinous crime,' we were deeply disturbed by the way in which he sought to downplay the reality of human trafficking in Northern Ireland.
The facts are clear: 73 trafficking victims have been referred through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) since 2009. To suggest otherwise is irresponsible. The reality of trafficking in Northern Ireland is, of course, far more extensive as this only measures those who have been rescued and come through the NRM.
Dr Ellison suggested there has only been one successful trafficking conviction (there have actually been two) and that therefore trafficking is not a serious problem in Northern Ireland. The low number of convictions surely demonstrates that action to bring about justice for the victims of trafficking is long overdue and that we need to raise our game.
Dr Ellison was also far too ready to dismiss the evidence relating to criminalising paying for sex.
Through Lord Morrow's Bill Northern Ireland faces a historic opportunity to tackle human trafficking and ensure victims receive the kind of justice, support and fair treatment they deserve.
Dr Daniel Boucher
Director of parliamentary affairs