HTMSE’s Managing Director, Philippa Southwell, Attended the 24-hour Conference on Global Organized Crime

HTMSE’s managing director, Philippa Southwell, attended the 24-hour Conference on Global Organized Crime, organised by Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, to give a talk on forced criminality.

 

The panel, titled ‘Criminalisation of victims of human trafficking – An overview of domestic and international legal frameworks post UK Modern Slavery Act 2015’, was also attended by Phil Brewer, a specialist advisor on modern slavery at the Human Trafficking Foundation.

 

To access a recording of the discussion, please register on the 24-hour Conference on Global Organized Crime’s website here.

Climate Change impacts exacerbating Modern Slavery, Human Trafficking and Exploitation says the Anti-Slavery Commissioner

As the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) gets underway, the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner has taken the opportunity to address, what she refers to as a ‘complex relationship’ between climate change and modern slavery.

In the recent publications ‘COP 26: Climate change and modern slavery’, the Commissioner brings together the research and evidence showing that climate change ‘exacerbates vulnerability to modern slavery’, primarily through to climate-induced migration but also that there is a link between slavery and sustainable production. The Commissioner took the opportunity to emphasise that environmental and social issues ‘need not be in competition with each other’.

For the full article, please see the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s website here.

Anti-Slavery Day, 18th October 2021

As an estimated 40 million people worldwide are still trapped in modern slavery, October 18th marked another Anti-Slavery Day in the UK. Over the whole of 2020, 10,613 potential modern slavery victims were referred into the UK’s National Referral Mechanism, but the true number of victims is estimated to be much higher.

HTMSE continues to support modern slavery victims and professionals assisting them by connecting victims with experts in modern slavery across all areas of practice.

We encourage anyone, whether a professional, NGO, charity, business, lawyer, medical practitioner, or other expert or specialist organisation not listed in the HTMSE directory to sign up to create a profile by following this link: https://humantraffickingexperts.com/main/signup.

Human Trafficking One of the Top Concerns for Financial Institutions

BAE Systems has recently published ‘The 2021 Global State of Anti-Money Laundering Report: Is compliance creating an industry own goal?’. The report identifies that human trafficking is one of the top 5 biggest concerns for financial institutions such as banks and insurers.

The report, quoting the UNODC, addresses the worsening of the ‘trend’ human trafficking caused by the pandemic, with lockdowns and curfews driving crime underground and limiting the abilities of NGOs and governments to help victims.

Findings from the report highlights that 77% of compliance teams are not confident in stopping crimes linked to human trafficking, and 81% said the same about crimes linked to sexual exploitation.

You can find the full report on the BAE Systems website here.

Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Publishes the Annual Modern Slavery Report for 2020-2021

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.

Supreme Court hands down judgment in A & B v CICA, for which Philippa Southwell provided expert evidence

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.

VCL and AN v UK: ECtHR refuses referral to Grand Chamber

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.

G7 Told to Prioritise Tackling Forced Labour in Global Supply Chains

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.

Child Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility

World Day Against Child Labour – 12 June 2021

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.

Judgement: European Court of Human Rights failure to adequately protect potential victims of child trafficking in landmark case of VCL and AN v UK

Philippa Southwell, founder of HTMSE and leading modern slavery lawyer represented one of the victims, VCL, in the landmark ECHR case, in relation to victims of human trafficking. Philippa represented VCL in both domestic proceedings and in his application to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.  

The ECHR judgement finds failure to adequately protect potential victims of child trafficking. Judgement in the case of V.C.L. AND A.N. v. the United Kingdom (applications nos. 77587/12 and 74603/12) was handed down last week held, unanimously, that there had been:  

  • a violation of Article 4 (prohibition of forced labour) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and  
  • a violation of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial).  

This case is likely to have wide reaching impact for victims of human trafficking.   

As part of VCL’s legal team also instructed were Henry Blaxland QCEmma 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.  Liberty (National Council for Civil Liberties), GRETA (Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings) responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and Anti-Slavery International intervened in this case.   

You can find the full judgement here.  

 

Photo Credit @ Wikimedia Commons