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Statement on the Grays Tragedy of 39 Deaths

October 23, 2019

FLEX CEO Lucila Granada makes the following statement on this tragedy:

“This morning’s news of 39 people found dead in the back of a lorry in Waterglade Industrial Park, Grays is truly tragic. 

Few facts are currently known about 39 victims. If they are migrants, brought into the UK via lorry to avoid our harsh border controls, this is a clear and resounding signal that immigration policy must be changed if we are to prevent more such tragedies occurring. Migration can be achieved in a legal and safe way that does not end with unnecessary deaths.

Unfortunately, even for those who do manage to survive the risky route to the UK, exploitation often awaits. This is due to the ‘hostile environment’ that pushes migrants into unregulated work with no rights or protections, including cases of modern slavery. If we want to ensure people aren’t dying for want of a better life in the UK, or being exploited in our workplaces and communities, we must end the hostile environment and ensure safe and legal migration routes.”

What might have happened?

Various media and commentators are using terminology relating to human trafficking and people smuggling. For clarity:

Human trafficking is only found to have occured under UK law when two factors are met:

  1. The Act – arranging or facilitating travel, including recruiting, harbouring or transferring a person
  2. The Purpose – for exploitation

This differs to the UN Protocol on Human Trafficking which also includes a third element, ‘the means’: threat, force, coercion, deception, fraud, abuse of power or a position of vulnerability. So under this UN framework, the way in which someone does the act and achieves the purpose needs to include these means (unless it is a child).

People smuggling is when someone is moved ‘illegally’ from one country to another, but does not include the means and purpose above. It means someone has sought a better life in a new country and is prevented from entering it legally so has had to use other means.

However, trafficking and smuggling in reality are often not so clearly delineated. People often begin their journey paying to be moved in order to seek a better life (smuggling), and find themselves deceived and forced into exploitation on route or at destination (trafficking).