In the past eighteen months Migrant Legal Project (MLP) has represented a number of Vietnamese minors on remand or serving Detention and Training Orders at Young Offender Institutes. All had been picked up for criminal offences relating to cannabis cultivation. Forced labour for cannabis cultivation is the most common form of child trafficking in the UK and Vietnam is the single largest source country for child victims of trafficking.
We have put together a short survey to assess how widespread the problem of re-trafficking, re-prosecution and removal/deportation of trafficked children is and to explore how legal practitioners currently respond. We are hugely grateful for all responses:
As is well documented, these children frequently disappear. In our experience either from local authority care or even in one incidence, from the Crown Court. Once missing the children are classified as absconders and their asylum claims withdrawn, notwithstanding a Conclusive Grounds (CG) decision that they are child victim of trafficking. Once missing it is impossible to challenge legal decisions – such as withdrawing asylum and trafficking claims – that will adversely affect them when they reappear and most will reappear, frequently in situations that suggest they have been re-trafficked. In once case, a minor we represented resurfaced in an adult prison serving a six-month sentence for drug cultivation. Before he disappeared he had a CG decision. The Home Office failed to mention this to the Crown Prosecution Service or to the court despite prior knowledge of his impending prosecution.
The question is not simply why are we prosecuting trafficked children but how do we ward against this and as legal practitioners protect the most vulnerable children in our society?
The deadline for survey submissions is Sunday the 29 June 2014 and we are extremely grateful to everyone who takes the time to respond.