This week, a U.K. high court judge rejected requests from three Sudanese victims of trafficking and torture, who had been threatened with removal to Rwanda, to be released from immigration detention.
Trafficking victims need support, not detention
All three men have reported that their detention in prison-like settings is worsening their trauma, and given that their trafficking cases could take months to conclude, have urgently asked to be released.
Acting on behalf of the three men, Chris Buttler QC, said:
“Each claimant has suffered a very great deal,” said Buttler. “They fled their villages after they were razed to the ground and family members were raped and tortured. The route from Sudan to Europe takes you through Libya, where there is a particular risk of migrants being forced into slavery.
“All three suffered grotesquely inhumane treatment. They were sold into slavery and treated like animals. All bear physical and mental scars.”
Despite this, the high court judge Mr. Justice Swift, did not grant their application for release on the grounds that the case had been presented to him in an “inchoate form” and it was unclear what safe accommodation the men could be released into.
However, Chris Buttler requested the men be released into accommodation from the Salvation Army, a charity providing specialist support to victims of trafficking in the U.K. We are concerned that recommendations made by legal professionals representing trafficking victims are not being heeded, prolonging traumatizing experiences with potentially fatal consequences.
The three Sudanese asylum seekers have received “reasonable grounds” decisions that they are suspected victims of trafficking. They cannot be deported until their trafficking cases have been concluded, and according to the Home Office’s own data from the first quarter of 2022, it is taking on average 448 days to adjudicate on trafficking cases.
Cruel Rwanda plans
The U.K. government has come under intense scrutiny in recent months following the announcement of its policy to send people arriving on small boats to the U.K. thousands of miles away to Rwanda to have their asylum claims processed.
Victims of trafficking are at risk of being caught up in these cruel plans that fail to respect the rights of people fleeing human rights abuses and undermine international standards designed to protect migrants and refugees.
The added risk of being detained in prison-like settings indefinitely further exacerbates trafficking victims’ trauma, prevents their recovery, and fails to protect their human rights.
No trafficking victim should be detained in prison-like settings. We’re 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. Join the campaign today.