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In The Press

Child slavery victim sues Home Office after sexual assault at Morton Hall (Guardian) (30 May 2018)

Date: 30/05/2018
Duncan Lewis, InThePress Solicitors, Child slavery victim sues Home Office after sexual assault at Morton Hall (Guardian)

A victim of trafficking and modern slavery from Vietnam has instructed Ahmed Aydeed, Rachael Davis, and Karen Staunton, of the Public Law team at our Birmingham branch, in bringing a civil claim against the Home Secretary and the Ministry of Justice. The client was tortured, raped and forced into debt bondage when trafficked to the UK. On arrival, he was forced to work in a cannabis factory, where he was later arrested for cannabis cultivation. Although he displayed evidence of having been a victim of trafficking and modern slavery, the police failed to refer him to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). As a minor, he was released into the custody of the local authority where he absconded from their care. It was his subsequent arrest for suspicion of illegal entry which resulted in an interview with an immigration official who finally referred him to the NRM. The Competent Authority made a positive reasonable grounds decision in support of his account as a victim of trafficking, however the Home Office did not inform the police, CPS or the Crown Court so the criminal proceedings continued. He was convicted and detained in a Youth Offenders Institute where he served 4 months of an 8 month sentence, before being transferred to Morton Hall IRC. When held there, another detainee sexually assaulted H and made an attempt to rape him. There is no evidence that any attempt was made to investigate this incident or the allegation made by our client. Duncan Lewis is bringing a claim against the Home Secretary and the Ministry of Justice, who run Morton Hall IRC, for negligence, breach of statutory duty and the ongoing failure to initiate any internal investigation or referral to the police for a criminal investigation of the allegation of sexual assault. Ahmed explains: “This is a vulnerable victim of slavery who was a child at the time of his exploitation – who was locked inside a cannabis house and then criminalised, incarcerated in a young offenders’ institution and then illegally detained in immigration detention where he suffered a highly traumatising assault, which was then never investigated. Our client’s treatment undermines the government’s rhetoric on its commitment to protecting victims of slavery and its own guidance on how child trafficking victims should be supported. Is this really how we treat those who have experienced slavery in the UK?”

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