London Woman Gets 18 Years for Sex Trafficking

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Human TraffickingLaw & Policy

The Solicitor General has handed down a harsher sentence for Josephine Iyamu, the first British person convicted of human trafficking outside of the UK under the Modern Slavery Act.

Solicitor General Robert Buckland QC MP argued that Iyamu’s initial sentence of 14 years behind bars was too light, prompting it to be increased to 18 years by the Court of Appeal.

Related Campaign: Support for all UK victims of human trafficking.

From her home in London, Iyamu, 51, organized the travel of five Nigerian women to Germany, where they were forced into sex work for Iyamu’s personal profit.

A press release from GOV.UK reports:

The victims were all vulnerable young women who knew Iyamu could get them into Europe. In return for arranging their travel, Iyamu demanded they repay her up to £35,000 once they began working in Germany, and were told that breaking this promise would result in activation of a voodoo curse.

The victims travelled from Nigeria across the Sahara to Libya, where they boarded overcrowded inflatable boats to Italy, and finally entered Germany using false identification documents. The traumatic journey involved spending days or weeks in “transit houses”, the rape of one of the victims, and being rescued from the Mediterranean after their boat broke down.

After Iyamu’s arrest in 2017, she plotted to stop the case against her through intimidation of the victims’ families. This included arranging the unlawful arrest of one of the victim’s sisters remaining in Nigeria.

Following the Court of Appeal sentencing, the Solicitor General said, “Modern slavery exists in all societies, and respects neither borders nor jurisdictions. It has no place in a civilised society and the UK government is committed to tackling this abhorrent crime wherever it originates, working with our partners across the globe.”

“The Court of Appeal’s decision today helps to show that crimes relating to human trafficking, such as Iyamu’s, will not be tolerated – regardless of where they are carried out.”

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