UK’s First Super-Complaint Relating to Modern Slavery

The NGO Hestia made a super-complaint regarding UK law enforcement’s response to modern slavery. Modern slavery operations by police forces increased by 250% in 2018, however only 7% of these cases have been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service. Their report Underground Lives from March 2019 indicates that police are criminalising the victims of trafficking, therefore hindering the prosecution of their exploiters. HTMSE founder Philippa Southwell was quoted in this report:

“We are still prosecuting individuals on a daily basis when there are key trafficking indicators. […] If we continue to prosecute victims of forced criminality, we will continue to have low prosecution rates for modern slavery-related cases. Almost all of my clients that have been prosecuted do not want to co-operate with a subsequent or parallel investigation into their exploitation because they feel they are not believed.”  

For the full March 2019 report Underground Lives by Hestia, read here.  

EUROPOL REPORT: Criminal networks involved in the trafficking and exploitation of underage victims in the EU 2018

Europol’s latest report follows as human trafficking is a crime priority in the 2018 – 2021 EU Policy Cycle. Notably, Europol reports that approximately 28 percent of global trafficking victims are children, who are preyed on as they are one of the most vulnerable and weak social sectors. In the EU, traffickers target minors primarily for sexual exploitation, also labour exploitation and forced criminality. A prominent issue is the lack of reporting around male minors trafficked or exploited within the EU.

The aim is to disrupt organised crime groups (OCGs) involved in intra-EU human trafficking and human trafficking from the most prevalent external source countries for the purposes of labour exploitation and sexual exploitation, including those groups using legal business structures to facilitate or disguise their criminal activities.

For the full October 2018 report ‘Criminal networks involved in the trafficking and exploitation of underage victims in the EU’, read here.

UNODC ANNUAL REPORT: Covering activities during 2017

The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) plays a critical role in global crime intervention. Their remit covers cooperation between member states, helping governments to achieve sustainable peace, security and development as outlined by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The 2017 annual report marks their 20th anniversary and outlines their significant activities during the year. Notable work is outlined within these five sectors:

  • DRUGS, HEALTH AND TRAFFICKING: Supporting Member States in implementing a comprehensive, integrated and balanced approach to addressing and countering the world drug problem

  • TRANSNATIONAL ORGANISED CRIME: Strengthening States’ capacity to confront threats from transnational organised crime and trafficking

  • JUSTICE: Boosting respect for the rule of law and human rights by strengthening crime prevention and building effective criminal justice systems

  • CORRUPTION: Promoting good governance, integrity and transparency in the public and private sectors for sustainable development

  • TERRORISM: Supporting Member States to enhance their criminal justice responses to terrorism

For the full UNODC ANNUAL REPORT: Covering activities during 2017, read here. 

Still No Way Out: Foreign national women and trafficked women in the criminal justice system

Foreign national women face risk factors for human trafficking or sex trafficking, and in some cases of forced criminality yet have wound up in UK prison. The support for this demographic is varied between prisons. To address this, the report Still No Way Out Foreign National Women and Trafficked Women in the Criminal justice System addresses the experience of foreign national women and trafficked women in the criminal justice system within England and Wales between using data between 2013-2017.

Some of the key findings:

  • Foreign national women represent 8% of the general population in England and Wales, but over 12% of all women received into prison each year and nearly 19% of those remanded.
  • Most (59%) of the foreign national women in prison in England and Wales at time of reporting (2017) were from Europe, with the largest groups from Romania and Ireland.
  • The offences for which foreign national women are imprisoned are overwhelmingly nonviolent. The most common offences for which the women were in prison were fraud (18%), theft (18%) and false document offences (10%). These are all indicator offences for trafficking and coercion.
  • The Modern Slavery Act 2015 introduced a defence for victims of modern slavery compelled to commit a criminal offence. Yet evidence confirms that victims of modern slavery continue to be prosecuted for crimes they were forced to commit.

 

For the full report Still No Way Out by The Prison Reform Trust (PRT) and Hibiscus Initiatives, read here.

Victim, Not Criminal – Trafficked Children and the Non-Punishment Principle in the UK

UNICEF’s report Victim, Not Criminal analyses the current legal framework concerning non-punishment of child victims of human trafficking involved in forced criminality. The report critiques the implementation of the Section 45 slavery defence and provides recommendations for change. Key recommendations include:

  • „The reasonable person test relating to the statutory defence in Section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act should no longer apply to children „
  • Mechanisms are put in place by the prosecuting agencies and government to properly monitor the implementation of the non-punishment principle across the UK „
  • Further training and awareness-raising is made available for police, prosecutors, judges, legal representatives and relevant practitioners on the protections from prosecution available for trafficked children.

 

For the full report Victim, Not Criminal – Trafficked Children and the Non-Punishment Principle in the UK, read here. 

Non-Punishment of Victims of Human Trafficking

It is common that victims of human trafficking will be exploited by their traffickers through forced criminality. The Council Of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings and directive states that  “Each Party shall, in accordance with the basic principles of its legal system, provide for the possibility of not imposing penalties on victims for their involvement in unlawful activities, to the extent that they have been compelled to do so.” 
Article 26, Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings. The UK’s Modern Slavery Legislation advanced the non-punishment framework by implementing a statutory slavery defence. Throughout England and Wales over the last decade there have been a significant number of cases before the Court of Appeal involving victims of human trafficking and forced criminality who have had their convictions successfully overturned.

The current leading cases are as follows:

  • R v O [2008] EWCA Crim 2835
  • LM &Ors [2010] EWCA 2327 [LM]
  • R v N and R v Le [2012] EWCA Crim 189 [N and Le]
  • THN, T, HVN and L [2013] EWCA Crim 991 [THN]
  • R v O [2011] EWCA Crim 2226 [O 2011]
  • R v LZ [2012] EWCA Crim 1867 [LZ]
  • R v VSJ et all [2017] EWCA Crim 36

Modern Slavery Act 2015 

CPS Guidance on Human Trafficking

COE Trafficking Convention 

Law Society Practice Note on Criminal Prosecution of Victims of Trafficking

Forced criminality poses an ongoing issue for those working in the  human trafficking and modern slavery sector. It has no universally accepted definition and current data collection mechanisms do not have the capacity to recount the scale and characterisations of forced criminality. The perpetrators of forced criminality in its various forms of exploitation are intentionally creating new methods in order to escape the system and increase their profit. This means cases of forced criminality are not always clear and may range from minor to major offences, making it difficult for authorities to classify and deal with appropriately. The UK has low conviction rates of trafficking offences, owed to the recurring cycle of trafficking – criminalisation – prosecution of victims. By criminalising victims, rather than protecting them, they are less likely to provide  evidence about their trafficking and exploitation. In cases of forced criminality early victim identification is key.

The Law Society Practice Note on Criminal prosecution of victims of trafficking is aimed at dealing with cases where victims of trafficking have been coerced to commit the crime by their traffickers. It provides lists of common human trafficking indicators and outlines important provisions in international and UK modern slavery law.

For the full Law Society Practice Note on Criminal prosecution of victims of trafficking, read here. 

Trafficking for Forced Criminal Activities and Begging in Europe, Exploratory Study and Good Practice Examples

The report, Trafficking for Forced Criminal Activities and Begging in Europe, Exploratory Study and Good Practice Examples firstly details one of the inaugural case studies analysing the field of trafficking for forced criminal activities and begging in Europe between 2013-2014. The second part of this report provides a practical guide intended for front line professionals including police, lawyers, NGOs, prosecutors and social workers to assist in complex human trafficking cases involving forced criminality.

For the full 2014 report by Anti-Slavery International, read here.