Dame Sara Thornton, UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner has published the 2020-2021 Annual Report. The report sets out the work of the Commissioner using the strategic plan presented before parliament in October 2019. However, the report also reflects on the challenges, including the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and UK exit from the EU.
The report highlights that progress has been made, as well as the drawbacks, such as successful prosecution of perpetrators remaining infrequent. The Commissioner emphasises the need for research which could contribute more to the practical understanding of what works in terms of victims support and prosecution of offenders.
Particularly, the report underscores the need for protection of victims who commit criminal offences as a direct consequence of their trafficking. According to the report, child exploitation in county lines remains prevalent, though the possibility of criminal exploitation is not being considered at the start of an investigation risking victims being wrongly prosecuted. However, non-prosecution alone does not protect children or vulnerable adults; effective safeguarding is needed instead, the report indicates.
For the full findings of the report, please see here.
HTMSE Director, Philippa Southwell, provided evidence in the case of A & B v CICA, for which the Supreme Court has now handed down the judgment. Philippa’s evidence was based on her legal expertise in modern slavery, human trafficking and forced criminality.
The Court was asked to decide whether A and B were discriminated against contrary to Article 14 and 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights, by being barred from compensation under the 2012 iteration of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) based on having unspent convictions.
The Court rules that an automatic bar on compensation was lawful, where there was no nexus between the unspent convictions and trafficking. This still potentially allows for arguments for compensation on the grounds of nexus between trafficking the crime committed, if the victim has been unable to benefit from non-punishment provisions.
You can find the full judgment on the Supreme Court website here.
European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has refused UK Government’s request that the case of V.C.L. and A.N. v. United Kingdom (nos. 77587/12 and 74603/12) be referred to the Grand Chamber. The judgment, handed down on 16th February 2021, is now final.
This was landmark case in which the Chamber of the ECtHR unanimously found breaches of Articles 4 (prohibition of forced labour) and 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights
Philippa Southwell, HTMSE director, represented VCL in both domestic proceedings and in his application to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Also instructed on behalf of VCL were Henry Blaxland QC, Emma Fitzsimons and Stephen Clark of Garden Court Chambers alongside Michelle Brewer, a former tenant who left Chambers to become a First-Tier Tribunal judge in the Immigration and Asylum Chamber.
For the confirmation of the rejection for referral to the Grand Chamber please see here.
For the full judgment please see here.
As the G7 meeting gets underway, the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Dame Sara Thornton and the CEO of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, Alex Their, appeal to world leaders to prioritise a coordinated approach on tackling the global issue of forced labour in supply chains.
Writing in an article in the Red Box section of The Times, they recommend specific measures and commitments to solve modern day slavery, emphasising that it requires and investment of capital and political will. They appeal to the G7 leaders to condemn forced labour in goods and services in their supply chains and commit to enforcing this.
It is proposed that G7 agree on specific and measurable commitments, such as eradication of forced labour in the G7 supply chains by 2025, and worldwide by 2030. Then, they should agree on steps to harmonise their laws and standards, followed by increase in investment in the countries trying to do the right thing. Lastly, the article calls for a ban to all state-controlled forced labour.
To read the full article by the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and CEO of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, please see here.
12th June was the official World Day Against Child Labour. Children around the world are routinely engaged in paid and unpaid forms of work that are not harmful to them. However, they are classified as child labourers when they are either too young to work, or are involved in hazardous activities that may compromise their physical, mental, social or educational development.
The World Day Against Child Labour was first launched in 2002 by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in order to bring awareness to the global issue of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. This year’s World Day was the first since the universal ratification of the ILO’s Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour. It 2021 is also the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.
As part of the observances, ILO and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have released global estimated and trends on child labour.
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, the report reflects on how it threatens to reverse years of progress in tackling the problem of child labour and assesses how the pace of progress towards ending child labour is likely to be affected by the continuing pandemic and the economic crisis that has accompanied it.
For more on the World Day Against Child Labour, please see here, whilst you can find the ILO and UNICEF report here.