CSJ: Human trafficking should be treated as a criminal, not an immigration issue

by zoejardiniere

15.03.2013. The think tank Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has called for a complete overhaul of the UK system to deal with human trafficking. Christian Guy, Director of CSJ, said of the system that “from top to bottom, this thing is a catastrophic failure.”

CSJ recommends to strip the UK Border Agency (UKBA) of the competence to make decisions on whether someone is a victim of trafficking. According to the report, the fact that potential victims are required to make their case to the same agency that may be considering their immigration status is a denial of the right to an independent hearing of their claim. Similarly, the remit for human trafficking should, in the view of CSJ, be transferred from the Minister for Immigration to the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice to reflect the serious criminal nature of the issue.

The report recommends the establishment of an Anti-Slavery Commissioner, who would be free from political influence and would be charged with representing the interests of victims of trafficking.

The report sees it as crucial to improve training of front line service providers to recognise and sensitively respond to victims of trafficking, citing ‘unacceptable levels of ignorance’ among all concerned services. In some cases studied for the report, this lack of understanding led to the criminalisation of victims, either for illegal activities that were a direct result of the victim’s trafficking situation, or for irregular entry or residence in the UK despite the situation in which this occurred.

For further information:

–         The Guardian, ‘Shameful’ failure to tackle slavery and human trafficking in the UK, 9 March 2013