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Data protection pilot for human trafficking survivors

Hope for Justice is working on an ambitious technology pilot that could allow anonymised data about the survivors we help to be shared with other organizations that hold data on the same people, all while protecting the actual individuals.

 

In this video, Hope for Justice’s Enrique Restoy and Callum Harvie explain more about the pilot:

 

Full information is in the below press release, courtesy of our partners R3: 

 

LONDON/NEW YORK: Global enterprise technology and services firm R3, today announces it has partnered with the anti-human trafficking non-profit organization, Hope for Justice, to launch the Private Data Exchange (PDEx) pilot program. The pilot application represents the first initiative which allows the sharing of case data between organizations whilst protecting the identities and data of vulnerable participants.

 

It is estimated that 49.6 million people are entrapped in forced labour or human trafficking. This represents the third largest criminal enterprise globally, causing devastation to the most vulnerable members of society.

 

Data is a crucial tool in helping non-profit organizations work to end modern slavery and human trafficking. Many different organizations working on cases of human trafficking and related services have existing pools of data. But, due to the sensitive nature of the underlying data and privacy restrictions, organizations find it challenging to share case data directly with each other. This has resulted in limited collaboration between non-profit organizations, but also statutory agencies such as law enforcement and government institutions, often to the detriment of efficient and effective interventions for victims and aftercare for survivors.

 

The PDEx tackles this problem by harnessing R3’s confidential computing platform Conclave, powered with Intel’s Software Guard Extension (SGX). This privacy preserving technology allows victims’ data to be uploaded via existing case management systems and then securely passed onto the Conclave platform. Once shared by the relevant participants on the platform, participating organizations will be notified through Conclave once a matching of shared case data has been made. This will: 1) Identify humanitarian agencies working in high-risk trafficking domains that hold corroborative records and alert them of any potential matches with a corresponding weighted match scoring system. 2) Promote the creation of real-world collaboration between agencies who have a record match by revealing the relevant communications pathway once the match is confirmed. 3) Aggregate sensitive encrypted data across the entire dataset without ever revealing it, to derive accurate and up-to-date novel insights, supporting a global effort against human trafficking and modern slavery.

 

Alongside the use of a secure matching engine, the application also offers the benefits of encrypted, securely stored data, ensuring that victims’ identities are always kept secure, while its user interface provides users with the ability to submit and review records with alerts for record matches.

 

The partnership will allow Hope for Justice, as well as all participants, to further utilize data in collaboration to prevent exploitation, rescue victims, restore lives and reform society.

 

The launch of the Private Data Exchange pilot represents a landmark moment in harnessing the security and privacy capabilities of confidential computing and will allow Hope for Justice to recruit other organizations working within this space to participate on the exchange.

 

Ivar Wiersma, Head of Conclave for R3, commented: “Human trafficking is a prevalent, yet often overlooked issue globally and is an immense violation of human rights. We’re proud to be teaming up with Hope for Justice to take a stand against modern day slavery and do our part against trafficking. By leveraging Conclave’s confidential computing capabilities, we are able to work with Hope for Justice to encourage collaboration between anti-human trafficking non-profits, which will no doubt expand how we can identify and protect victims of modern slavery. Human trafficking and slavery are complex issues with a global impact and we hope that by utilizing Conclave’s privacy-preserving and data sharing capabilities, we can take a step forwards in tackling the exploitation of human lives.”

 

Tim Nelson, CEO of Hope for Justice, commented: “Human traffickers are exploiting new technology and globalization at a staggering scale and pace. Most trafficking is now facilitated via the internet and other digital technologies that pay little attention to borders or jurisdictions. We cannot lose the technology race against human trafficking. That is why we are so pleased that the Private Data Exchange platform has the potential to revolutionize how the sector collaborates across borders and overcomes issues surrounding data privacy and confidentiality. For the first time, civil society, governments, UN agencies and businesses can truly collaborate to make technology a force that will help to end human trafficking.”

 

For more information, read the Hope for Justice case study.

Equipping businesses to meet requirements of Norwegian Transparency Act

Our team hosted an event in Norway to inform and share knowledge about modern-day slavery among businesses and professionals in light of the new Norwegian Transparency Act.

 

Following the introduction of the Transparency Act in July this year, Hope for Justice and Slave-Free Alliance are working to support organisations in meeting the requirements of the new law.

 

The Act necessitates that companies promote respect for human rights and decent working conditions, including the provision of a living wage, across their operations and supply chains.

 

Sharing expertise

 

At our event held at Litteraturhuset in Bergen this month, our team engaged with individuals and business representatives about the challenges they are facing in meeting these requirements and how to overcome these.

 

Both adults and students attended the two-hour event entitled ‘Kunnskapsdeling om moderne slaveri’, which translates as ‘Sharing knowledge around modern slavery’. The topics covered included social sustainability, modern slavery and human rights in business.

 

Karoline Løvoll Strømme, Hope for Justice’s Project Manager in Bergen, took part in a panel discussion around the topic ‘What can we do to create lasting change?’ alongside three other guest speakers.

 

 

She said: “We want to work towards a reality where organisations are respecting human rights and ensure that they uphold decent working conditions for their employees and for workers in their supply chains.”

 

Key speakers

 

Experts in their fields, Jeanette Schultz Årvik, Senior Advisor at Slave-Free Alliance, and Maren Fluge Nordgreen, Project Coordinator at Future-Proof, also spoke at the event. Future-Proof is a project that is part of the Rafto Foundation – Raftostiftelsen – which works to promote human rights, hold governments and businesses to account, and teach democracy and human rights.

 

Karoline added: “Jeanette spoke about the new Transparency Act in Norway, detailing some of the challenges that businesses are facing in their operations and supply chains, and explaining the importance of firms taking action. Meanwhile Maren Nordgreen spoke on human rights in businesses and how Future-Proof work with local companies. We are really grateful to Maren for sharing her knowledge and expertise. We also want to thank everyone who attended the event. It was a brilliant opportunity to share experiences, learn from one another and have discussion around how we best achieve the aims of the Transparency Act. Ultimately, we want to ensure that workers are protected from harm, that businesses uphold their reputations, that they comply with human rights governance and carry out due diligence.”

 

 

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Photo credit: Joakim Birkeland

 

Ditching the Human Rights Act will harm survivors 

Hope for Justice has published a briefing strongly opposing the UK government’s Bill of Rights, its proposed replacement to the Human Rights Act (HRA).

 

The briefing was penned jointly with dozens of civil society organisations working within the field of human trafficking and child exploitation.

 

The briefing outlines our shared fear that in scrapping the existing bill, the rights which it safeguards and protects will also be scrapped. Where the HRA gives universal rights to all UK residents – rights that are based on the European Convention of Human Rights – the Bill of Rights will only confer rights decided by the government. Ditching the HRA will also remove an important source of legal responsibility for the government to uphold our rights. Dismantling our existing preventative frameworks and diminishing access to justice will affect us all. However, it will affect vulnerable and marginalised groups the most, including survivors of slavery and human trafficking.

 

The Bill of Rights has had its first reading in the House of Commons and will move to its second reading in the near future. These readings are part of the early stages in the bill’s “passage” through to legislation. Our briefing therefore serves as an early call to government action. The HRA has served as a reassurance of rights to a range of people; it has been key to the development of the UK’s anti-trafficking and modern slavery framework. In uniting with our peers within the field of human trafficking and modern slavery prevention, we urge the government to support our existing human rights protections and reject the bill.

 

The briefing can be read in full via the following link: Bill of Rights Briefing

World Cup 2022: A legacy of modern slavery

The FIFA World Cup, a routine opportunity for unity and sportsmanship, has been marked by exploitation and considerable human cost for this year’s tournament in Qatar. 

 

This highly anticipated occasion, kicking off on 20th November, has seen the widely-documented mistreatment of workers tasked with the event’s extensive preparations. Evidence of forced labour and modern slavery has continually emerged from across several job fields: from construction to cleaning, hospitality to private security, workers have been subjected to excessive demands, forfeits, and negligence, which in several thousand cases has even cost lives. 

 

Human rights abuses & workers in modern slavery 

 

Since being awarded the 2022 World Cup back in 2010, Qatar has carried out rapid and substantial infrastructure work to make the event possible. As such, over 12 years, it has drafted in large numbers of international workers to complete similarly large tasks, including the massive construction of 8 football stadia. 

 

Many workers have faced considerable labour exploitation and shocking working conditions in the face of these tasks. An early report published by the Guardian shed light on workers being subjected to modern slavery. The report takes the experience of specifically Nepalese workers, unable to leave their job, being left unpaid for several months at a time, being denied access to drinking water in the sweltering desert sun, and dying at roughly a rate of one worker per day. Some workers, as a last resort bid to free themselves of their brutal conditions, even sought refuge in the Nepalese embassy in Doha, Qatar’s capital. 

 

Similar experiences have been reported by thousands more over the years. It has been tragically common for workers to be forced into dangerous, chronically low paid roles. In the construction industry alone, official reports state that at least 6,500 people have tragically lost their lives. With concerns from the UN over how reliably mortality figures have been logged, the real figure is likely to be much higher. Furthermore, across many sectors, workers are often met with threats of their pay being unjustifiably withheld. This is on the backdrop of many workers being charged exorbitant fees to secure the job in the first place, driving people into debt and further unable to leave their jobs. 

 

 

Slow progress in industry reform

 

In the face of mounting international pressure, Qatar pledged to reform its labour standards to the international standard in 2017, signing an agreement with the UN International Labour Organisation (ILO). Since then, the country has introduced a number of labour laws designed at safeguarding workers’ rights and well-being. These included:

 

  • Permitting workers to change jobs at their own free will, when previously permission from the employer was required.
  • Introducing fines against employers who withhold payment.
  • Establishing a tribunal allowing for workers to log complaints about their employers.
  • Introducing regulations to ensure workers’ safety at the workplace, for example restricting working hours during the hottest parts of the day.

 

However, ILO reports in 2020 and 2022 show that despite the introduction of these reforms, the rights of workers are still being ignored by employers:

 

  • Since 2019, US$ 320 million has been demanded in fines from employers by the Qatari government for unpaid workers’ wages.
  • In the summer of 2021, 338 workplaces had their operations shutdown for failing to adhere to regulations regarding working in hot conditions. This figure increased to 463 workplaces in summer 2022.
  • Between October 2021 and October 2022, over 34,425 complaints were made by workers regarding their employers, many relating to unpaid wages. 

 

Whilst the introduction of regulations is a nudge in the right direction, it is clear that these regulations are doing very little. Exploitation and negligence from employers remains high; it is the systematically disadvantaged workers who bear this unjust brunt.

 

An urgent need for change

 

From kick off to final whistle, the legacy of this exploitation cannot be ignored. The enjoyment that many will have over the course of the nail-biting competition comes at a considerable price to thousands of people’s lives. This should not be the case. Workers the world over should be treated with dignity, their rights maintained, and their humanity recognised. 

 

Here, at Hope For Justice, we continue to work to intervene and support those who have survived injustice of this kind, as well as seeking to further prevent incidents of slavery and trafficking. Case studies such as this sadly reinforce the need for this kind of work, as well as call for considerable change. With profits forecast at US$ 17 billion from the tournament, the need for awareness and systemic change feels all the more stark.

 

Together, we can bring exploitation like this to an end. Together, we can end modern slavery. 

 

Survivor of forced labour finally receiving support – 18 years after being trafficked

A man is now receiving the support he is entitled to – 18 years after being trafficked to the UK for forced labour.

 

Dusan* was barely earning minimum wage in his home country, Slovakia, when three Slovakian nationals promised him a better life.

 

They guaranteed he would receive 10,000 Slovak Koruna (SKK) each month – the equivalent of about £814. They also claimed that accommodation, food, and bills would be included at no additional cost.

 

False promises

 

These lies marked the beginning of Dusan’s exploitation.

 

A member of our outreach team in West Yorkshire said: “The traffickers told Dusan he didn’t have to worry about anything because everything would be provided for free, except tobacco and drinks.

 

“One week later, he was brought to London by coach. There were six other workers, both men and women, travelling with him. They eventually arrived at a house in West Yorkshire. While living here, they were refused breakfast and drinks. They were given one sandwich during the daytime and one hot meal at night.

 

“Dusan was asked to sign a contract in English, a language he didn’t know. He worked five days per week, and sometimes overtime at weekends in a factory, packing goods. To this day, he doesn’t know how much he actually earned because he didn’t ever see his payslips.”

 

Traffickers pocketed his salary

 

Dusan was trafficked to the UK in 1994 and was forced to work in the factory for six months. He only received about £40 per week, while his traffickers pocketed the rest of his salary. On one occasion, his traffickers threatened him, putting him under pressure to sign a loan for £10,000. Dusan refused and a fight broke out between him and his exploiters. Thankfully, with the help of a colleague, Dusan managed to escape and find new, safe employment, in another location.

 

Formally identified as survivor of human trafficking

 

Dusan, now in his 50s, was referred to Hope for Justice last year. At that time, he was unable to move forward with his life because of his exploitation.

 

A member of our team said: “The survivor courageously shared his story with us. He had never formally reported his experiences and so we referred him into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). He received a positive reasonable grounds decision, officially identifying him as a victim of human trafficking, which gives him access to the appropriate support.

 

“Dusan’s passport and ID were taken away by his exploiters, so he had never been able to apply for a new one. Despite managing to find a new job, Dusan has not been able to register with a GP and he has never had a bank account in his own name in the UK.

 

“We helped him to overcome these barriers and are pleased that he is now able to begin moving forward with his life.”

 

Our team supported Dusan through a time of hardship by providing him with essential supplies and food vouchers. He is now in receipt of further outreach support via another organisation.

 

*Name and photo changed to protect identity of the survivor

 

 


 

Guardians are regular givers who support us as we help survivors of modern slavery like Dusan to rebuild their lives. You can become a Guardian here.

EU Parliament adopts major new legislation on corporate sustainability reporting

The EU Parliament has strongly approved the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). This new directive will update the EU’s current reporting framework for businesses on issues including modern slavery and exploitation in supply chains – a reporting framework which has until now been perceived as “largely insufficient and unreliable” according to an EU Parliament press release 

  

The Directive passed with an overwhelming majority: 525 votes to 60, with 28 abstentions. 

 

As a result of CSRD, the number of corporations required to provide sustainability reporting will increase significantly: from 11,700 to 50,000. This will apply to all large businesses, those with at least 250 employees, as well as listed small-to-medium sized enterprises (SME). Non-EU corporations with a turnover of €150 million or more from EU markets will also need to comply. 

 

 

The new CSRD reports will require more detail than present standards. These will outline a company’s impact on human rights, the environment, social standards, and sustainability risk projections. This will include disclosures on a company’s measures in preventing labour exploitation in their supply chains. In ensuring that companies are providing reliable information, companies will also be required to undergo independent auditing and certification.  

 

The European Council, representing the Member State government, looks set to adopt the new legislation on 28th November. It will then be signed and published in the EU Official Journal. The council will then be formally enforce the directive 20 days following publication. Rules will come into force from 2024 for the largest companies, with a staggered grace period until 2028 for progressively smaller businesses. 

 

 

Teenage girl trains as salon worker after escaping forced marriage

“I thought my life was finished.” These were the words of a 16-year-old girl who was sold into forced marriage to pay off her family’s debt.

 

Thavy* was just 14 when her mother traded her in as part of a deal – her daughter’s hand in marriage in exchange for a loan.

 

Paying off a debt

 

Accepting the offer would give the family a reprieve from the mounting debt they were incurring following the collapse of their small vegetable business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Maggie Crewes, Hope for Justice’s Cambodia Director, said: “The family were in dire circumstances. As the tourism industry shut down, the hotels they usually supplied shut their doors. Many other customers lost their jobs and were not buying, and so their fragile business fell to pieces.”

 

A broker promised to pay off the debts and to provide a loan if Thavy would marry ‘a kind, rich man’ in a neighbouring country. Her mother promised that she could return home if she did not like it. So Thavy travelled to China, hoping to improve her family’s fortunes.

 

Forced marriage

 

“It was at this point that Thavy’s world started to crumble,” Maggie said. “The ‘rich husband’ was an older man, a lonely factory worker earning the same as her father. They could hardly communicate as they spoke different languages. The man was mean and abusive, and expected Thavy to do all of the housework, cooking, cleaning and also care for him. She was scared, lonely, isolated and terrified of getting pregnant.”

 

Thavy seeks help

 

When on one occasion she was entrusted to buy some groceries from the shop, Thavy seized the opportunity to run away. She used the money to buy a train ticket to the furthest destination possible. After a six-hour journey, she arrived in a large city and found a police station. Thavy used Google translate to communicate that she was from Cambodia and needed to return home. Thankfully on seeing this vulnerable young girl signalling for help, the police made contact with the nearest Cambodian embassy. Two days later, an officer attended the station, interviewed Thavy, assisted her to obtain temporary travel papers and helped her to return to her home country.

 

Social welfare officers met Thavy at the airport and referred her to Hope for Justice. She was enrolled at our Lighthouse where she received safety, a warm bed, nutritious food, healthcare and other support.

 

Our social workers were able to locate Thavy’s grandmother and nine-year-old brother, but unfortunately learned that her father had died and her mother had moved to Thailand to find work.

 

Rebuilding her life

 

Thavy chose to move into our Stepping Stones Project – a programme designed to support young girls as they learn a practical skill, but also learn to live independently and safely in the community.

 

She told us: “When I was stuck in that awful place in another country I thought my life was finished. I am so thankful to be free from all that and get another chance to start my life again through Stepping Stones.”

 

 

Thavy has recently graduated from a six-month vocational training course in salon work. The soft skills programme has taken her through a range of important skills specific to the workplace, how to relate to future employers, how to apply for jobs, how to conduct herself at interview, good work ethics and more.

 

She is now doing an internship to improve on her salon practice, with the hope to move home and find paid employment in a nearby town to support her brother and grandmother.

 

Maggie Crewes said: “It’s been a rough road but Thavy is taking one step at a time and taking control of her life, finding a new start through the Stepping Stones programme.”

 

*Name and image changed to protect identity of the survivor

 

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Guardians are regular givers who support us as we help survivors of modern slavery like Thavy to rebuild their lives. You can become a Guardian here.

Meeting Sir Mo Farah – a hero and survivor of modern slavery

Hope for Justice’s Executive Director of Programmes, Enrique Restoy, had the privilege of meeting Sir Mo Farah, a multiple Olympic, World and European champion athlete, who has previously spoken out about his trafficking experiences as a child.

 

The world’s most successful male track distance runner was speaking at the annual Anti-Slavery Day Awards held in the House of Commons, Westminster. Enrique Restoy, our Executive Director of Programmes (pictured above), said after meeting him: “Sir Mo Farah didn’t need to risk everything – his status, his livelihood, his identity, even his freedom – to speak out and explain that he was trafficked into the UK, nor share about the dreadful exploitation he endured trapped in modern slavery, but he did. And Sir Mo keeps raising awareness about the trafficking of children, women and men into slavery today on our doorsteps in the UK and in all other countries in the world.

 

“Sir Mo didn’t need to come to the Anti-Slavery Day Awards 2022, but he did. And that was such a boost to all those colleagues present who, day-in, day-out, work with extreme dedication and little reward to end modern slavery once and for all. Sir Mo’s modesty was only matched with the electricity he created in the room. He’s what I call a hero. Not to mention the fact that he’s also a four-time Olympic champion and six-time World Champion.”

 

Enrique Restoy told Sir Mo how important his testimony and story had been for young people around the world who are interested in sports, and who may not understand the reality of human trafficking. He added: “Sir Mo has also shed light on the dramatic reality for many people who end up being trafficked into another country in terrible conditions of exploitation, and who are afraid of being deported or persecuted. There are many children like Mo once was, who are out there being abused and exploited, right next to us. We need to find them – and they need to know that we are there to help them.”

 

The Anti-Slavery Day Awards 2022, organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery and the Human Trafficking Foundation, who invited Hope for Justice, celebrates the work done to highlight the issue of human trafficking. It honours those who have made an outstanding contribution to the fight against modern slavery, and journalists and media organisations whose reporting has made a significant impact. Hope for Justice is a former winner of the ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Fight Against Modern Day Slavery’ award.

 

 

This year, ‘The Real Mo Farah’ documentary won Best Broadcast Programme at the awards ceremony. Sir Mo also won a Special Award – the Trustees Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Fight Against Modern Slavery – for his bravery in highlighting the issue of human trafficking and modern slavery. The BBC documentary about his story – telling how he was trafficked into the UK from Somaliland and forced into domestic servitude when he was a child – is still available to watch on BBC iPlayer (BBC One – The Real Mo Farah).

 

Hope for Justice’s CEO Tim Nelson was invited to speak on BBC News on 12th July following the revelation. He talked about the wider relevance of Sir Mo’s story, which is all too common in the UK and around the world.

 

We also signed an open letter (Sir Mo Farah’s bravery must inspire government to act for all victims), praising Sir Mo’s bravery and saying that it should inspire the UK government to act for other victims.

 

The full list of winners below and images are courtesy the Human Trafficking Foundation:

 

 

-HTF Trustee Awards for Outstanding Contribution in the Fight Against Modern Slavery: Sir Mo Farah & Dame Sara Thornton

 

OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION WINNERS

 

-Reducing Vulnerabilities Award: Nusrat Uddin, Public Law Department at Wilson Solicitors LLP

-Rebuilding Lives Award: Valentina Spencer, Housing for Women

-Empowering Survivor Voices Award: Breaking the Chains Project, Shpresa Programme

-Statutory Services Award: DI Paul Wiggett, Metropolitan Police Service

 

MEDIA WINNERS

 

-Best written opinion piece dealing with Modern Slavery Caroline Haughey, The Independent, ‘To Trample over the Intentions of the Modern Slavery Act is Reprehensible’ and Rowan Williams, The Times, ‘Government should be ashamed of Nationality and Borders Bill’ 

-Best news piece dealing with Modern Slavery, Angus Crawford and Tony Smith, BBC, ‘Homes for Ukraine: Housing Scheme called Danger to Refugees’ 

-Best investigative news article dealing with Modern Slavery Emiliano Mellino, Pete Pattisson and Rudra Pangeni, Bureau of Investigative Journalism & The Guardian, ‘Migrant fruit pickers charged thousands in illegal fees to work on UK farms, investigation shows’ 

-Best broadcast piece dealing with Modern Slavery Leo Burley and Hannah Richards BBC, ‘The Real Mo Farah’ 

Couple awarded £20k over police failure to investigate trafficking

A couple have received £10,000 each after police failed to investigate their trafficking case.

 

The Polish couple, in their 40s, have been formally identified as victims of modern slavery in the UK, having been trafficked for forced labour on a farm.

 

Antoni* and Dorota* were referred to Hope for Justice in 2019 and our team established that they had reported their experiences to the police but never received a response.

 

One of our Independent Modern Slavery Advocates (IMSAs), who has been working with the couple, said: “The survivors were under the impression that, because they had not heard anything from the police, their case had been concluded and the traffickers may have been arrested.”

 

Exploitation ‘never been properly investigated’

 

Antoni and Dorota were exploited in two parts of the UK and so our team contacted the two relevant police forces for an update.

 

Our IMSA said: “It turned out that their exploitation had never been properly investigated. There was confusion over which police force should investigate and in the end, neither did.”

 

Our team asked the police to reopen their investigation, which resulted in them taking new statements. This process was traumatic for the survivors, who had to relive their experiences. Officers were eventually able to arrest the traffickers but because of the lapse of time, they could not prosecute. Police visited the couple in person to apologise.

 

 

Our IMSA said: “Both survivors suffered from sleepless nights and anxiety as a result of knowing that their traffickers were still on the loose. They were looking over their shoulders every time they left their home. They were worried that the traffickers would find them and cause them further harm.”

 

Seeking legal advice

 

Hope for Justice referred the survivors to a specialist law firm, Bindmans LLP, for advice about claiming compensation for the police’s failures.

 

We supported the couple during appointments with the solicitors and were present during telephone and video calls. We provided ongoing support for the couple, who were naturally very anxious, particularly when asked questions about their exploitation and the investigation.

 

Bindmans LLP were successful in securing more than £10,000 each for Antoni and Dorota.

 

The survivors said of the result: “We are very happy with the outcome. We wouldn’t have been able to do this without Hope for Justice’s support and are grateful for the charity’s help. We are also very grateful to our solicitors for all their work and for representing us.”

 

A settlement offer was made to the couple earlier this year, but on the advice of the solicitor, the couple decided not to accept it. The law firm successfully managed to negotiate a higher settlement.

 

Bindmans LLP ‘delighted’ to have assisted survivors

 

Joseph Morgan, Solicitor at Bindmans LLP, said: “The right to freedom from slavery is an absolute right, which imposes a positive duty on police forces to investigate credible allegations of trafficking and modern slavery. In these survivors’ case, this simply did not happen. After being picked up by the system and recognised as victims, they were left for years wondering if those responsible for their ordeal had been brought to justice. To learn years later that the perpetrators had faced no consequences and were still out there has had a significant impact on both of them. I am delighted to have assisted them to secure an acknowledgement of responsibility from Nottinghamshire Police for their failure to take action when they should have. I hope this has helped the survivors move forward with their lives. This case should act as a reminder for police forces to take seriously their responsibilities to the most vulnerable members of our society.”

 

Advocacy and overturning unfair convictions

 

During their exploitation, Antoni and Dorota were both compelled to steal by their traffickers, resulting in theft convictions in their name.

 

Our team previously referred the couple to a specialist criminal lawyer for advice and representation on reopening and overturning these convictions.

 

You can read more here about the successful appeal which proved their innocence.

 

Our team continues to advocate on their behalf to make sure they are put in a priority category for permanent housing.

 

Compensation

 

The couple said they intend to save the compensation money for their future home.

 

They told us: “We are hoping to move to permanent accommodation in the near future so will save to buy some furniture and furnishings for our home.

 

“We both have health problems and are currently unable to work but we hope that we will make a full recovery and be able to work at some point in the future. At the moment, finding and being in stable accommodation is key for us.”

 

The couple will also look to pursue a compensation case for their trafficking experiences and Hope for Justice will continue to assist with this.

 

We have approached Nottinghamshire Police for a comment but had not received a response at the time of publication.

 

*Names and image changed to protect identity of the survivors

 

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Guardians are regular givers who support us as we help survivors of modern slavery like Antoni and Dorota to rebuild their lives. You can become a Guardian here.

Hope for Justice speaks at UN Conference on Transnational Organised Crime

Hope for Justice was delighted to participate in the eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (11th COP UNTOC) this week in Vienna. The Conference exists to help nations who support this convention to better combat transnational organised crime including the trafficking of persons, of firearms, and illegal smuggling. At the session, Phillipa Roberts, Head of Policy and Research at Hope for Justice, gave an address to delegates and dignitaries on the Protocol Against People Smuggling. 

 

Phillipa emphasised the need for prioritising effective frameworks for safe, legal migration so as to reduce irregular migration. Without safe and legal routes for migration and for those seeking asylum many are forced into the hands of people smugglers. 

 

Currently, people who are smuggled into a country, including those seeking asylum, are often treated as illegal migrants and criminalised. But, in reality, people who entrust themselves to smugglers are victims of serious crimes and often have their human rights disregarded and abused. Many are subject to physical and sexual violence, kept in degrading conditions without proper access to food, water and sanitation, and subject to dangerous transport methods.  

 

As a result, many people who are smuggled across borders also meet the definition of a human trafficking victim. Even where this is not the case, their circumstances make them vulnerable to further exploitation by human traffickers. 

 

If found by immigration forces, people who have been smuggled into a country are at further risk of inhumane treatment in detention facilities or by being put through the criminal justice system themselves. 

 

Therefore, Phillipa emphasised, states should prioritise resources to prevent the activities of people-smugglers and human traffickers, and investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes, rather than migrants who are victims of them and in need of protection rather than criminalisation. By establishing safe, legal routes for migration, states can effectively disrupt and disincentivise this criminal activity in the first place. 

 

Phillipa address also touched on the need for state and non-state actors to work innovatively and collaboratively together on a national and international level. As a not-for-profit organisation, Hope for Justice has frontline teams working in five continents, and are often able to identify changing trends in how organised criminals work before statutory bodies.  

 

We are also able to work transnationally as we did in the case of Eryk* a victim of human trafficking who was trafficked from the UK to the state of Georgia in the US. When our UK team received a referral from one of his friends, they were able to work with our investigators in the US, the County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Homeland Security to find Eryk, bring him back to the UK, and launch an investigation into his traffickers. 

 

Phillipa said it had been a privilege to have observer status and take part in the 11th COP UNTOC and that she was pleased that the role of NGOs in fighting transnational organised crime is being recognised. “It’s important for us as NGOs to have the opportunity to listen to member states so we can better understand how we can support and partner with government bodies, other NGOs and survivors to combat organised crime,” she said. “Underpinning UNTOC and its Protocols is a human rights-based approach and without upholding the rule of law and respecting human rights we cannot defeat organised crime. While Hope for Justice’s work is focused on human trafficking and wider forms of slavery, we appreciate that there are overlaps with other forms of organised crime such as people smuggling, drug trafficking and cybercrime. So, the 11th COP UNTOC has provided us with an opportunity to learn more about these intersectional issues, ensuring that we do not ignore this crossover in our programmes and policy work.”