Jonathan Knott

Former British ambassador to Hungary, Budapest

Part of FCDO Human Rights UK in Hungary

10th December 2014 Budapest, Hungary

Slavery: not a thing of the past

Guest blog by Levente Nyitrai, Senior Foreign Policy, JHA and Human Rights Officer.

Today is International Human Rights Day, which is commemorated every year on 10 December since 1950. It is a good chance to reflect on the many human rights problems that remain across the globe. And also to consider what further action we can take to tackle them. The UK has been especially active this year in the fight for more wide spread and better honoured human rights around the world.

In June the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict took place in the British capital. Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó was there and addressed the forum on behalf of Hungary. In July the Girl Summit, aiming to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) was also hosted in London. And, as I type, my colleagues are getting ready for the opening of the Global Summit to Tackle Online Child Sexual Exploitation. Again, there will be a delegation from Hungary taking active part.

But last week another conference was organised in London by the name of Santa Marta. It was a unique forum dedicated to the eradication of Modern Slavery across the globe. Hungary too was amongst the 33 attending countries.

As much as we’d like to think that slavery is just a thing of the past there remain 35.8 million slaves in the world according to the Walk Free Foundation. Some are sold or betrayed by loved ones, others duped, tricked or lured by criminals with promises of a better life.  Stripped of their freedom, exploited for profit, victims often endure violence, rape, hunger, and abuse. For all, the emotional, psychological and physical damage is incalculable. And the problem is global, it knows no borders. In Hungary, organised criminals have sought to traffic women and men to the UK, where their victims face enforced work as prostitutes or in labour gangs.

modern slavery
Photo: Foreign and Commonwealth Office

With the support of our Embassy, law enforcement bodies of the UK and Hungary work very closely together to tackle the problem and to investigate and prosecute those who mislead, mistreat and exploit young Hungarians. To assist in their work, I accompanied detectives from both countries to their visits to victims and I was shocked and horrified to see just how far some people were willing to go just to earn a few thousand pounds from others’ exploitation and misery. Thanks to their dedicated work as well as exemplary cooperation, British and Hungarian police captured and put behind bars a number of perpetrators and helped the lives of dozens of victims.

This is good news but unfortunately there is still plenty to be done. We will remain committed to help and support the work of both countries’ law enforcement and I hope we get to celebrate many more positive results at next year’s Human Rights Day in London and around the world.

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About Jonathan Knott

Jonathan Knott was appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Hungary in March 2011 and arrived in Budapest in February 2012 to take up his post. He left this post on April…

Jonathan Knott was appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to
Hungary in March 2011 and arrived in Budapest in February 2012 to take
up his post. He left this post on April 2015.
He has previously held a variety of diplomatic posts at home and
abroad, several with a particular focus on commercial and corporate
finance issues. Jonathan has served in a number of positions in the
British Diplomatic Service since joining in 1988:
Before his appointment was Deputy Head of Mission and Director for Trade and Investment in South Korea from 2008 to 2011.Between 2005 and 2008 he held the post of Deputy Finance Director in the FCO.From 2000 to 2005 he served as First Secretary (Trade, Corporate Affairs and Finance Negotiator) in UKDel OECD Paris.From 1996 to 2000 he was First Secretary (Head of Political/Economic/Aid Section) in Mexico.From 1995 to 1996 he worked in the FCO as Deputy European Correspondent at the EU Directorate.Between 1991 and 1995 he served as Third later Second Secretary (Political / Press and Public Affairs) in Havana.From 1990 to 1991 he was Desk Officer in the FCO’s First Gulf War Emergency Unit.Between 1988 and 1990 he worked as Desk Officer in the FCO in the Anti Drugs Cooperation Department.
Jonathan holds an MA in law from Oxford University, and he is a
member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. He speaks
English, French, Spanish and Hungarian. He is married to Angela Susan
Knott and has one daughter and two sons.

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