Human trafficking victims are now entitled to compensation, regardless of whether their entry in the UK was illegal or not. Human rights campaigners are extremely pleased at the new decision, seeing it as public policy to protect all victims.
The judgement has become a signal for a change in attitude and approach. It has even overruled the decision made about a recent case, regarding a young Nigerian girl who was trafficked to the UK when she was just 14.
The court of appeal had ruled that Miss Hounga was not entitled to compensation from her former employer, who had been ordered to pay the girl £6, 187, because to do so would be condoning the illegality of her entry in the UK. However, prisoners are allowed to claim compensation in Britain. Is that condoning criminality? No, it is protecting the rights of human beings.
Hounga was allegedly promised an education and £50 per month of her employer. The arrangements of her entry into the UK were arranged by the family in question, named the Allens, and she was given a false identity and granted a 6-month visa. They then employed her to look after their children, themselves possessing a joint British and Nigerian nationality.
She was employed for 18 months, however never received a penny. Mrs Allen also reportedly inflicted serious physical abuse on the child, and told her that if she left the house, she would be thrown in prison because her presence in the UK was illegal.
The court has now emphasized the importance, of the UK honouring obligations under international law to protect the rights of victims, regardless of their immigration status. It stated there has been a problem for a long time in the UK as authorities treat non-UK and non-EU victims differently.
Paul Heron, a solicitor at Public Interest Lawyers, which represented Anti-Slavery International, said: “We are delighted that the supreme court has held today that the defence of illegality does not bar the appellant’s claim against her traffickers. Whilst she did enter the UK illegally, she did so as a result of being trafficked here as a child… It is only just, that she should not be barred from bringing an action to recover damages against the very people who were responsible for her trafficking.”