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Recovery and redress: FLEX calls on UK Government to ensure access to justice for victims of trafficking for labour exploitation

September 29, 2016

In her first speech to the UN General Assembly last week, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May spoke of her commitment to eradicating modern slavery and bringing its perpetrators to justice. While prosecution of traffickers and exploiters is a crucial part of any strategy to tackle the crimes of modern slavery, it is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to achieving justice for those who have been exploited.

Compensation for abuses suffered – whether physical, psychological or economic – is not only a right for victims of trafficking under EU and international law, it is also an important step on the road to recovery. Fair compensation for unpaid wages, injuries and trauma can give victims a sense of justice as well as providing the means to begin to rebuild their lives and avoid further exploitation or re-trafficking. Compensation can also act as a deterrent, shifting the cost-benefit balance for would-be exploiters and making human trafficking a riskier crime.

FLEX research has shown that there are significant barriers to accessing compensation for victims of trafficking for labour exploitation in the UK. Though the government’s Modern Slavery Strategy states a commitment to ensuring avenues for “reparation and compensation” for victims, in practice existing avenues only allow very limited access to people who have been trafficked. Our latest policy paper, Improving Access to Compensation for Victims of Trafficking for Labour Exploitation in the UK, addresses four key limitations of the current UK system, and makes recommendations for measures to improve access for victims of trafficking.

The paper calls on the UK government to develop effective avenues to compensation for all victims of human trafficking by:

  • Improving existing and developing new legal avenues, including creating a dedicated compensation fund
  • Ensuring access to legal assistance for victims of trafficking
  • Improving advice, support and information to enable trafficked persons to make compensation claims
  • Improving data collection and monitoring of access to compensation for victims of trafficking

Download the full paper here.

This blog reflects the views only of the author, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.