Human Rights

Dexter Dias: ‘Justice is collective therapy’

This piece was originally published by The Justice Gap.   Dexter Dias is never more than a few sentences away from a thought experiment. This is one of them: You’re watching a game between two players, Maria and Denise. They can’t see you, but you can see them. You enjoy the competition as they try to outwit each other, some rounds going Maria’s way, others won by Denise. Then, something changes. Out of Denise’s sight, Maria hits a button. The game becomes skewed, and Maria starts to win every round. You watch for a while, as the cheat prospers, and then you’re told you can leave. On the way out, you’re given £10 for your time. You’re then asked if you want to give £2 back to even the game up. Chances are, so the experiments tell us, you’ll hand over the money. ‘That tells us something very important,’ argues Dias. …

Freedom – or Freefall?

This piece was originally published as a blog post by René Cassin.   Imagine that everything is taken away from you. Forget your job. Forget your income, too. You have no home and no family you know how to contact. Imagine that you have 45 days to rebuild. And the clock is ticking. For former slaves, this isn’t merely a thought experiment. Last year, over 3,800 people went through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for victims of modern slavery. The government offered each of them just over six weeks of support in a safe house before cutting them loose. This is the cruel reality of the UK’s current modern slavery strategy. During those 45 days of what the government calls ‘reflection and recovery’, a victim’s first task is to prove that they are indeed a victim of slavery or human trafficking. If they can’t or don’t, the clock ticks faster: they have …

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 …