Home Office Discriminated Against Lone Parent Trafficked Asylum Seeker

Silvia Nicolaou Garcia
Senior Associate Solicitor, Public Law and Human Rights

Lawyers acting on behalf of an asylum seeking victim of trafficking and single mum of two, “MD”, who suffered severe exploitation at the hands of traffickers have today welcomed a High Court judgment that has found that the Home Office’s system of support discriminated against her.

Under the current system for supporting victims of human trafficking, the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), victims of trafficking who are in receipt of asylum support do not receive a payment called dependent child trafficking support, whereas if they were not in receipt of asylum support but in receipt of financial support from other sources (welfare benefits or paid work), they would receive dependent child trafficking support. 

Our client suffered considerable distress over a lengthy period of time, from the moment she was referred into the NRM. As a consequence of being denied child trafficking support, she was unable to pay for childcare to allow her to participate effectively in legal appointments and suffered the distress of having to disclose traumatic experiences in the presence of her children.

She was unable to participate effectively in counselling, which prevented her from progressing with her recovery. She suffered additional distress as a result of having to bring her children with her to invasive medical appointments, and was unable to benefit from her meetings with her modern slavery advocate, as she was unable to talk openly in the presence of her children.

We gathered a compelling body of evidence from survivors and from those who work with survivors, including the Helen Bamber Foundation, ATLEU, solicitors, psychologist and psychiatrists. This evidence demonstrated that: single parent victims of trafficking with dependent children inevitably need childcare in order to attend medical, legal and other recovery-related appointments; it is not possible or safe to conduct an effective psychological assessment with a child present; and children are negatively impacted when they accompany their parents to interviews where their parents’ trafficking is discussed.

Mr Justice Kerr ruled that “the treatment of the Claimants … was egregious” and that the current system of support had discriminated against our client. He granted our client a declaration that the denial of child trafficking support payments to victims of human trafficking in receipt of asylum support breaches Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights (read with Article 4 and Article 4 Protocol 1). Mr Justice Kerr found that it was clearly inappropriate for children of victims of trafficking to attend appointments and that the victim of trafficking’s attendance of such appointments is made more difficult by the absence of properly funded childcare. He ordered for MD to be compensated.

Silvia Nicolaou Garcia, Senior Associate Solicitor at Simpson Millar acting for MD said:

"We welcome this judgment. Without adequate financial support and childcare, our client was not able to access services vital for her recovery from her past traumatic experiences. A back-payment can’t make up for the lost time and support but we hope that the compensation she will be awarded will help to provide stability and safety for her and for her children and that she will finally be able to leave her trafficking experiences behind."

Silvia Nicolaou Garcia Senior Associate Solicitor at Simpson Millar acting for MD
Silvia Nicolaou Garcia

"We hope that the Home Office sets up a redress scheme to ensure all survivors in the NRM get back-payments and that going forward, all survivors are provided with adequate financial support, including child trafficking payments and free childcare.

We are hugely grateful to all of the individuals and organisations who gave up their time to work with us to collate the evidence ahead of the hearing”.

The Judicial Review hearing took place remotely on 2 – 3 March 2021. Judgment was handed down on 24 May 2021.

MD was represented by Ayesha Christie and Chris Buttler QC and Ayesha Christie of Matrix Chambers, instructed by Silvia Nicolaou Garcia, Elizabeth Smith and Eve French from the Public Law Team at Simpson Millar.

Another co-claimant, EH, was represented by Deighton Pierce Glynn.

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