Socialist Worker

High court case shows up Tories’ terrible treatment of trafficking victims

by Isabel Ringrose
Issue No. 2776

A protest against immigration detention centres

A protest against immigration detention centres (Pic: Guy Smallman)


In a damning indictment of how the Tories treat victims of people trafficking, a high court has ruled the Home Office should give them the right to live in Britain.

Britain’s racist immigration system leaves asylum seekers unable to work, study or access benefits while they apply for refugee status. Trafficking victims should now be granted leave to remain in Britain.

If the Home Office chooses to appeal, it must lodge an application seeking permission to do so by next Tuesday.

Before the ruling, the Home Office was able to send back victims of trafficking to their home countries despite risks of them being trafficked again.

The court case centred on a 33 year old Vietnamese woman, who filed a legal challenge against the Home Office. She was forced into sex work in Vietnam for six months, then transported to Britain in the back of a lorry where she arrived in November 2016.

The journey took her through Russia, Ukraine and France. Between her arrival in Britain and March 2018, she was forced to work in brothels and in cannabis factories.

In April 2018 she was recognised as a trafficking victim, but by October was charged with conspiring to produce cannabis. She was sentenced in December 2018 to 28 months’ imprisonment.

In May 2019 lawyers again referred her for a trafficking assessment, but the Home Office claimed it had no record of her case.

By the following month, it found her record, but then locked her in immigration detention later that year.

Despite being legally recognised as a trafficking victim, her asylum appeal is still ongoing. While battling with the Home Office, she has been diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety and depression as a result of her experience while trafficked.

The Home Office is trying to get around the ruling. A spokesperson claim the judgment “does not state that leave must be granted to all victims of modern slavery”. Instead, they say “it may be necessary when a victim is pursuing a claim for asylum based on the fear of being re-trafficked.”

Ruthless 

This Tory government is set on creating an ever more ruthless hostile environment against all asylum seekers and refugees.

Meanwhile, a Tory MP has been kicked out of his senior role at St John Ambulance after mixing up two Asian ministers.

Tories will make rescuing refugees a crime
Tories will make rescuing refugees a crime
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James Gray wrongly introduced the then vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi as health secretary Sajid Javid at an event both attended to honour NHS volunteers.

He allegedly justified his mistake with, “They all look the same to me”.

Gray claims he said the ministers “look very alike” and added that “the notion that this is some sort of racist remark is ridiculous”.

Meanwhile, human rights lawyers have said Priti Patel’s racist Nationality and Borders Bill breaches international and domestic law in ten different ways.

Their report says plans to refuse asylum claims if a person came via an “illegal route” is in breach of articles 31 and 33 of the UN Refugee Convention. And of articles 2, 3 and 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

They say it will lead to legal challenges based on international human rights and refugee treaties. But legal challenges in the future cannot be relied on to rip Patel’s bill apart.

Anti-racists have to resist the bill now—and get ready to mount opposition if it passes.

Stand Up To Racism’s international conference and day of action against the bill are vital events to build for those wanting to smash the Tories’ racism.

Register for Stand Up To Racism’s 16-17 October international conference at bit.ly/SUTRconf21
Together With Refugees—Wed 20 Oct, Parliament Square, London SW1A 0AA at 4.30pm. More details at bit.ly/SUTRbillprotest
Amnesty UK Europe’s day of action—Sat 23 Oct, assemble Italian Embassy, London W1K 4EH at 12 noon. Details at bit.ly/Amnestyprotest

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