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.
Philippa Southwell, HTMSE’s founder, has appeared on the BBC Radio 4 documentary ‘A Long Way from Vietnam’ alongside the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, and others, where she discussed the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.
The programme is presented by BBC journalist Nga Pham and explores why irregular Vietnamese migration is the second highest into the UK and delves into the experiences of migrants through discussions with the Vietnamese community, lawyers, police officers and the Minister for Immigration.
Approximately 70% of Philippa’s client base is currently Vietnamese. In the programme, Philippa discussed her own experience with the NRM and the delays faced by her clients in receiving their determinations – having to sometimes wait for months and even years for a confirmation of their trafficking status.
‘A Long Way from Vietnam’ was broadcast on 24th August 2021 and will be repeated on the 29th August. It can also be accessed on the BBC Sounds website.
Philippa Southwell, HTMSE’s founder, appeared on GB News for a live interview during which she discussed modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK’s textiles and garment industry. She focused on the exploitation in fashion as well as the legislation covering business modern slavery compliance.
Under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, Section 54, companies with a total annual turnover of over 36 million, are required to publish a modern slavery statement setting out the steps, if any, they have undertaken in the past year to prevent the risks modern slavery and human trafficking in their business and supply chains. The only formal requirements for the modern slavery compliance statement are that it is signed by a senior member of the organisation, such as a director, and that it is published in a prominent place on the organisation’s website.
During her interview, Philippa discussed the lack of implementation and enforcement of our legislation against non-compliant companies.
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.
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 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. 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
The report A Game of Chance? Long-term support for survivors of Modern Slavery by Dr. Carole Murphy at The Centre for the Study of Modern Slavery offers a comprehensive analysis into the UK’s current approach to support for victims of human trafficking and modern slavery. It highlights the significant gaps in survivor care, most notably in long-term support. There is little done beyond the 45 day reflection and recovery period of the National Referral Mechanism, after which financial assistance ends and survivors are vulnerable to re-trafficking and exploitation. Hence, the report suggests the “system and its processes and procedures are not fit for purpose and have the potential to cause harm to survivors through re-traumatisation, falling through gaps in service provision and potential re-exploitation.”
The key recommendations are:
- Resource services to work with complexity of survivors’ needs relevant statutory and voluntary sector
- A positive Conclusive Grounds (CG) decision must carry status and resources (see Lord Mc Coll’s (Victim Support) Bill)
- Trafficking Survivor Care Standards (HTF) should be implemented as standard model of best practice and should consider introduction of independent advocates
- Statutory guidelines should be introduced and monitored and include compulsory and embedded training for all First Responders and other statutory services
- Personnel conducting CG interviews should be properly trained
- Undertake consistent monitoring of the NRM drawing on evidence based research about what works
- Document evidence of what works by conducting a cost benefit analysis to establish the social return on investment of longer-term support provision
- Consider evidence and best practice from other jurisdictions to inform changes
For the full report on A Game of Chance? Long-term support for survivors of Modern Slavery by Dr. Carole Murphy The Centre for the Study of Modern Slavery, read here.