Justice for the Innocent

This piece was originally published as a blog post by René Cassin.   Who is at the centre of Britain’s Modern Slavery Act: slaves or their captors? When only 4.9 per cent of the compensation awarded in such cases is passed onto victims, as The Times claimed yesterday, we can’t help but wonder. This is what happens when priorities are skewed towards criminal justice and away from community care. Legislation that has upgraded modern slavery into a serious crime has had the added effect of encouraging prosecutions at the expense of caring for victims – in this case, quite literally. Crackdowns on gangs and traffickers provide the instant gratification that long-term rehabilitation of victims does not. We’ve seen it all before, only in a different context: the war on drugs, where the capture of cartel kingpins is taken as an unequivocal sign of success. We should be concerned, because how we start …

Undocumented children let down by lack of support in ‘labyrinthine’ immigration system, argues report

This piece was originally published by The Justice Gap.   Vulnerable children and teenagers in the UK whose citizenship is called into question are not adequately protected by the current system, according to a report by a team of children’s rights lawyers working in conjunction with Islington Law Centre. When facing challenges to their immigration status, argues the Precarious Citizenship Report, children and young people must be treated as ‘children first, and migrants second’. The report draws on an analysis of 52 cases between 2012 and 2016. During this time, lawyers acting as part of a specialist service called the PROTECT Project worked with these undocumented youngsters attempting to secure their futures. They found that ‘undocumented children and young people who are navigating their lives alone face disproportionate barriers to living safe, protected and full lives’. Not only did the project consider that unrealistic expectations were placed on the young people …

‘The military didn’t fail them. The government failed them’

This piece was originally published by The Justice Gap.   ‘Why do they need to ask?’ wonders Kris McGurk. ‘Why do they need to bring campaigners on board? Why do they need to launch funding appeals?’ McGurk is talking about the crowdfunding campaign he has been leading on behalf of the families of three Scottish soldiers killed, off duty, by the IRA back in March 1971. First approached by members of the McCaughey family after the Historical Enquiries Report came out, McGurk has since been pivotal in bringing the case into the public consciousness once more. The story is horrific, even by the cruel standards of the Troubles: three young men – Dougald McCaughey, John McCaig and Joseph McCaig – befriended in a bar and persuaded into the car that drove them to their deaths. They were shot in the head at a roadside not far from Belfast. Their bodies returned …