LONDON: According to The Guardian, the UK government has decided to backtrack on a controversial anti-human trafficking policy. The reason behind this reversal is the concern that the policy placed too much burden on victims by requiring extensive evidence.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman recently made an announcement on Jan. 30 regarding a new policy. According to the policy, victims of trafficking will now be required to provide immediate evidence in order for the government to consider them as potential victims of slavery.
According to Braverman, the policy was designed to address trafficking victims who were taking advantage of the system. However, Dame Diana Johnson, the chair of the home affairs select committee, expressed concerns about the lack of evidence supporting the home secretary’s decision to change the policy.
According to The Guardian, there has been a significant decrease in the number of claims accepted since the rules were put into effect. Based on statistics from the Home Office, it was found that in 2022, 88 percent of cases received a decision indicating that they were potential victims of trafficking. In the first quarter of 2023, the figure dropped to 58 percent.
Many organizations focused on human rights and anti-trafficking had previously cautioned that the amendments would lead to the rejection of numerous legitimate cases of victims, thereby exposing them to a higher risk of exploitation.
Two potential trafficking victims, who had their negative decisions despite the Home Office’s belief in the authenticity of their evidence, brought a challenge against the policy change.
According to The Guardian, Braverman decided to withdraw the new rules before the case could go to a full high court hearing.
Shalini Patel, a representative from Duncan Lewis Solicitors, expressed her excitement about the outcome of the case to The Guardian. She believes that this victory not only benefits her clients, but also provides hope for other survivors of trafficking who may have faced negative decisions due to the policy.
It was clear from the beginning that asking trafficking survivors to provide objective evidence was an impossible task, which put them at a disadvantage right from the start. A survivor of trafficking would be greatly affected by a negative decision.
If a negative decision is made, it means that a survivor of trafficking will be left without any support, such as a place to stay, assistance with their case, and financial help. This would put them in great danger of being exploited again.
The Guardian was informed by a spokesperson from the Home Office that modern slavery is a cruel and inhumane crime. We are dedicated to addressing the issue and making sure that victims receive the necessary support to start rebuilding their lives. The national referral mechanism is there to help many victims of modern slavery every year. However, there are some individuals who try to take advantage of the system. That’s why we have implemented measures to stop this from happening.
The Home Office frequently updates the official guidance, and we will soon provide more information to clarify the current guidance on modern slavery claims. I’m sorry, but we can’t provide any comments or information about ongoing litigation.
According to Braverman, she plans to suggest new rules by July 10. She assured that there would be no negative decisions made regarding trafficking victims until that time.