Secure Stephen's recovery from trafficking -

Secure Stephen’s recovery from trafficking


Credit: Every Child Protected Against Trafficking (ECPAT) UK

The UK authorities want to send Stephen*, a child victim of trafficking, back to Vietnam where he has no family. He was picked off the streets of Hanoi, an orphan aged just 10 years old.1

Stephen was arrested when he was found in a police raid looking after cannabis plants, aged 16, after years spent isolated and locked up in converted houses, mixing and applying dangerous chemicals, beaten and assaulted when his traffickers visited.

Despite being formally recognised as a trafficking victim by UK authorities, when he turned 17-and-a-half he lost his automatic right to stay in the country and had his application to remain refused. The decision letter has been vilified for suggesting Stephen had shown “considerable personal fortitude in relocating to the UK and attempting to establish a life here”.

Stephen spoke no English, except a few words, when he was rescued. It is only in the intervening years that he attended school, learnt to speak English fluently and has now started college.

We ask the UK Home Secretary to review her decision.

This case highlights the UK government’s failings in providing child victims with the support that they need.

Sadly, cases like Stephen’s are not uncommon. Whilst the UK does have a system for identifying and supporting victims, the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), it does not currently guarantee any specialist support or long-term leave to remain in the UK, which makes it very difficult for child victims to build a stable life and plan for their future.

Just as they’ve begun to recover from traumatic experiences of abuse, many are forced to return to countries where they have no family, few support structures and are likely to be further exploited.

Tell the Home Secretary that Stephen and victims like him should stay in the UK and be given the opportunity to fully recover.

Our partner ECPAT UK (Every Child Protected Against Trafficking) carried out a survey of frontline professionals, which found that 91% said it was important that the NRM provided a grant of leave that gave a durable solution for child victims of modern slavery with immigration concerns.2 That’s why we launched a campaign for child victims together in July last year.

Children identified as victims of trafficking are among the most vulnerable in our society and most in need of long-term protection. Removing young people like Stephen is unjust. We hope that his case will help secure much-needed reforms of the NRM for children so that Stephen and the thousands of others like him are allowed to rebuild their lives and plan for a better future.

*Name changed for his protection

Campaign updates

11 April 2018: Stephen’s case has been adjourned. Whilst it is disappointing that his safe future is yet to be secured, Stephen’s foster father said: “The adjournment is for his benefit and is about strengthening his case and responding to the documents filed late.”

1 February 2018: We handed in your signatures today! By adding Freedom United’s voice, a total of 116,632 signatures were handed in to the UK Home Secretary calling on her to reverse her decision and let Stephen stay. We joined Stephen, his MP, Helen Goodman, 38 Degrees and ECPAT UK at the Home Office. Click here to see photos.

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109 Comments on "Secure Stephen’s recovery from trafficking"

newest oldest most voted
Ana Campello

Stephen merece um recomeço digno , e creio que cabe a esse país proporcionar isso, principiando pela concessão da cidadania e em seguida favorecendo a sua adaptação à sociedade como ser humano livre.


Victims like Stephen should be encouraged, as they seek to establish themselves in their adopted country. He should be granted citizenship.


Stephen was a victim when he was very young. Now that he has been fostered and is working to improve his life, he needs the encouragement of his adopted country. He should be granted citizenship.

Victor G Jackson

Attorneys Needed: Our witnesses need attorney advice to help them testify against organized human trafficking. How can we contact your law team?

Mrs A K Kilcoyne

I’m horrified by the inhumanity and inconsistency of the government. Stephen needs support, care and therapy to help him start to recover and try to build a healthy, positive life for himself. We need to stand up for the vulnerable and stop this abuse.

Call on the Home Secretary to secure Stephen’s recovery from trafficking

1,621 actions to 30k
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Dear Rt. Hon. Amber Rudd MP:

We are shocked to learn of Stephen’s experience in the UK as a child victim of trafficking forced to tend cannabis plants, enduring years of isolation, dangerous chemicals and physical abuse.

We are even more shocked to learn that his application to stay in the UK, where he has lived since being taken from Vietnam aged 10, has been refused.

Please reconsider your decision not to approve Stephen’s application to stay in the UK. Stephen has no family connections or support in Vietnam. His deportation risks placing him in the hands of traffickers.

Sadly, Stephen’s case is not isolated. He is one of thousands of children and young people who are trafficked to the UK each year with many being sent back against their wishes after they turn 18.

Our campaign with ECPAT UK ‘Help Trafficked Children in the UK’ sets out the changes you should make to ensure that all child victims receive the long-term support to recover from their abuse and rebuild their lives.

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