The U.K.’s interior ministry has come under fire yet again this week for speeding up the deportation process of Vietnamese nationals held under immigration powers, some of whom are trafficking survivors.
Lawyers and activists are concerned that Vietnamese trafficking survivors are being wrongfully detained and deported by the Home Office back to dangerous situations where they are vulnerable to being retrafficked.
Chi, a 20-year-old survivor who was trafficked by her family into forced labor to repay family debts, shared her experience of escaping forced labor only to be detained by the Home Office despite her foster mother’s best efforts to prevent it.
She said, “I was crying a lot in there. I just wanted to come back to my foster mum. I was so scared while I was in detention about being sent back to Vietnam. I couldn’t go back to my family and I was frightened I would be trafficked back to the UK.”
The Guardian reports:
Tom Nunn, of Duncan Lewis solicitors, who is bringing the legal challenge against the Home Office for fast-tracking the removal of some Vietnamese people from the UK, said: “The concern is that a large number of Vietnamese nationals are being placed in this sped-up asylum process despite the fact that many are showing clear indicators of trafficking.”
A Facebook group for Vietnamese nationals in the UK discussed the April charter flight and said that although some on the flight had opted for voluntary return – as did a number on this week’s flight – it was not truly voluntary. “Out of 13 people who voluntarily repatriated, only six asked to return. The remaining seven were kept in the immigration camp for so long they got discouraged and agreed to sign the application form to return to Vietnam,” one person posted.
The U.K.’s commitment to creating a hostile environment for migrants is actively revictimizing trafficking survivors and preventing survivors from accessing their rights, while the U.K. shirks its responsibility to protect and support trafficking survivors.
This is further exemplified by the U.K. continuing to hold survivors in prison-like settings under immigration powers, despite this flying in the face of international standards. Such policies are causing immeasurable psychological harm to individuals held in these conditions particularly when compounding trauma as a result of trafficking.
Freedom United is urgently calling on the U.K. to stop detaining trafficking survivors and release all survivors from prison-like settings. Join the campaign today.