A new report by the U.K.’s cross-party parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has criticized the Home Secretary’s controversial Nationality and Borders Bill for its predicted impact on the rights of modern slavery survivors.
Survivors risk being punished
Under Part 5 of the bill, survivors will be obliged to disclose evidence of their exploitation within a fixed period of time and risk being unable to access the support they’re entitled to as a result of crimes they were forced to commit while being exploited.
The complex nature of people’s experiences of modern slavery means that it won’t always be possible for survivors to submit evidence of their exploitation within a specific timeframe. It is unacceptable that survivors face being punished for this.
Furthermore, survivors who have been sentenced to 12 months or more of prison anywhere in the world would not be eligible to access support under the proposed rules.
An alarming strategy undermining human rights
With this bill, human rights and the wellbeing of survivors are effectively sidelined in favor of prioritizing immigration targets. The approach from the Home Office appears to be rooted in suspicion of modern slavery survivors’ experiences, questioning their right to access crucial support and preparing justifications to subsequently deny that support.
Freedom United is alarmed by this strategy and is urgently calling on the Home Office to make changes to the Nationality and Borders Bill to prevent unnecessary and serious harm to survivors.
The Independent reports:
It states that the new rule will “needlessly cast doubt on the credibility of potential victims of trafficking or slavery based on how quickly they can submit evidence”, and calls on ministers to issue guidance setting out the timescales and what might be reasonable grounds for missing a deadline.
“Prosecuting trafficking victims is wrong because it punishes them for something they were compelled to do as victims. The government should provide further clarity on how the new measures will apply in such cases and what it is doing to ensure victims are not prosecuted, in line with its human rights obligations,” the report states.
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