UK Politics

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 …

‘Deport first, appeal later’ policy breaches human rights

This piece was originally published by The Justice Gap.   The system of deporting foreign criminals before they have had a chance to appeal was in breach of their human rights, the Supreme Court has ruled. The court unanimously allowed the appeals in the cases of two foreign nationals who claimed that deportation would breach their right to private and family life. Kevin Kiarie, from Kenya, and Courtney Byndloss, from Jamaica, had been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Both have longstanding family ties in Britain. In his judgment, released today, Lord Wilson concluded that the risk to public safety was ‘outweighed’ by the argument that ‘when we are afforded a right of appeal, our appeal should be effective.’ The home secretary, in other words, failed to prove that deportation in advance of an appeal ‘strikes a fair balance between the rights of the appellants and the interests of …

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 …