The U.K.’s interior ministry, the Home Office, recently published a press release entitled “Alarming rise of abuse within modern slavery system.” The press release announced new measures to address this supposed abuse by the likes of “child rapists, people who pose a threat to our national security, serious criminals and failed asylum seekers” without providing any evidence, prompting prominent barristers to call out the Home Office this week for misleading claims.
These new measures based on no apparent evidence will have real adverse effects on modern slavery survivors. One such measure proposed will potentially raise the threshold for determining who is recognized as a modern slavery survivor which will inevitably result in fewer survivors being identified and, therefore, fewer receiving much-needed support to recover.
This comes on top of the Home Office’s new immigration policy last week that, the Home Office admits, would see more trafficking survivors detained for immigration offenses. Freedom United and partners are urgently calling on the U.K. to review this policy and stop detaining survivors.
There is no justification for implementing policies that will lead to the continued victimization of trafficking survivors, and we are not alone in this assessment.
The Independent reports that 12 sets of chambers and several barristers have submitted a joint complaint to the Home Office. They say that the Home Office’s claims are “not supported by any evidence” and do not “distinguish between unevidenced political opinions and facts grounded in evidence.”
This is not the first time that the Home Office has been accused of acting without evidence with devastating implications for trafficking survivors. Last year, the Independent reported that misleading Home Office guidance leads to the deportation of identified modern slavery survivors to countries that would not protect them when they could be offered asylum in the U.K. instead.
Furthermore, as one barrister told the Independent,
“Lumping in failed asylum seekers with ‘child rapists’ and ‘people who pose a threat to our national security and serious criminals’ was an egregious attempt to demonise people who’ve not been shown to pose any danger to the public. Furthermore, there was no attempt to justify the rhetoric with relevant statistics.”
Freedom United finds the continued lack of support for migrant trafficking survivors in the U.K. unacceptable. Survivors should not be demonized, detained or deported – regardless of their immigration status.
We have launched a new campaign urging governments to stop detaining survivors for not having secure immigration status, and meet international standards designed to protect survivors from further trauma and revictimization.
Sign the petition and join the global call on governments to stop detaining trafficking survivors and release all potential and confirmed survivors from detention.