On why it is so important to address the Home Office’s rhetoric regarding asylum seekers.
First published in October 2020.
There are a lot of misconceptions regarding modern slavery, particularly in developed nations. The reality is that it is far more prevalent than many realise, and in the UK for example it has been rising year on year.
This is why it is so important to address the Home Office’s rhetoric regarding asylum seekers. The conflation of trafficking and smuggling presents a false impression in the minds of the public as to not only causes, but outcomes.
Following recent high profile cases, and here there is a serious discussion to be had about “fast fashion” and how it feeds into modern slavery, there has been a focus on combating slavery in supply chains.
There is a problem which is not being addressed though, the actions of the Home Office. By removing the ability of victims of trafficking and modern slavery to come forward through draconian immigration measures they help exacerbate the issue.
Even when victims, including a disturbing number of children, are able to come forward and seek help, they are deterred from doing so due to a fear of deportation, which in turn places them at future risk of being trafficked and exploited again.
Any serious steps to tackling modern slavery have to start with a focus on protecting victims. Removing the fear of deportation. Reducing the need to rely on traffickers by opening safe routes and making the asylum/immigration systems, which are both distinct, more accessible.
So long as we see those seeking asylum conflated with criminals. So long as we focus on closing routes and making it harder to seek asylum and use charities to identify and prosecute the victims of trafficking and modern slavery, we won’t be able to combat the gangs.
As we mark Anti-Slavery Day 2020, all countries need to look at opening up safe routes for asylum seekers, making it easier for migrants to become documented, and ceasing the prosecution of victims. Only by doing this can we hope to really combat trafficking and modern slavery.🔷
Dan Sohege, Human rights advocate, international refugee law specialist, immigration economist, charity fundraising professional and Director of Stand For All.