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Authorities rescue Vietnamese nail bar slave, send her straight back to captor
Credit: M. on Unsplash

Authorities rescue Vietnamese nail bar slave, send her straight back to captor

… when a young Vietnamese person is found living in a room with a padlock on the outside of the door, describes working for no payment in a nail bar, gives a vague account of apparently chance encounters with a series of Vietnamese persons as part of her journey and provides no suggestion as to how she might have paid for her passage from Vietnam, it is difficult to see how such an account did not provide to… social workers possible indicators of… being the victim of trafficking.

So says Hugh Mercer QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge in a judicial review challenge by a young Vietnamese woman. The case is HJ v London Borough of Croydon [2021] EWHC 66 (Admin)

The social workers in question were from Greenwich council rather than Croydon. They interviewed HJ on the same day she was discovered by police with a view to assessing her age. HJ was not informed of the purpose of the interview, which deemed her to be over 18. She was then released on immigration bail — straight back to her padlocked room, where she stayed for another five days.

Sense has since prevailed and HJ is now in foster care, but Greenwich and Croydon have been passing the buck on responsibility for supporting her for the past year. The judge ultimately put the onus on Croydon: “I cannot accept that the Defendant was entitled to refuse to assess the needs of HJ on the basis of the preliminary assessment of age by [Greenwich]”.

CJ McKinney is Free Movement's editor. He's here to make sure that the website is on top of everything that happens in the world of immigration law, whether by writing articles, commissioning them out or considering pitches. CJ is an adviser on legal and policy matters to the Migration Observatory at Oxford University, and keeps up with the wider legal world as a contributor to Legal Cheek. Twitter: @mckinneytweets.

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