Survivors of modern slavery die waiting for compensation
According to recent studies, trafficking victims and survivors of modern slavery have died before receiving a single penny of compensation due to the amount of time it takes to get through the government’s compensation programme effectively. It highlights that half of survivors waited for up to three years.
A recent study by the Anti-Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit (ATLEU) focused on 30 cases, including a survey of survivor practitioners showing that almost nine out of ten respondents (88%) had survivor experience giving up because of the amount of time needed to cope with their application.
ATLEU claims that CICA does not understand the essence of trafficking and contemporary slavery crimes or how traumatised survivors are impacted by these crimes and that weakness is ‘compounded by poor data collection’. This indicates that the authority has no knowledge about the number of survivors who have attempted to join the scheme.
‘Applications to CICA are generally made by survivors who are unable to identify their trafficker, where the trafficker has no significant assets, or where the survivor is unable to face their trafficker in court,’ commented ATLEU solicitor Jamila Duncan-Bosu. ‘Compensation is vital to helping survivors escape the poverty that places them at much greater risk of further harm and re-trafficking. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme as it currently operates is failing survivors by regularly denying them the compensation that they are entitled to.’
Six out of ten respondents had experience of denying payments to survivors on the grounds that they had not experienced a violent crime and six out of ten had experience of refusing claims to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) on the grounds that the survivor had not complained to the police as soon as reasonably possible.
ATLEU cite the example of Esio, sold for £200 to a criminal gang. ‘For five years he was exploited and forced to live in cramped, squalid conditions with 25 other trafficked men before being dumped on the street,’ the group says.
He was refused compensation by CICA on the basis there was no evidence he had suffered a crime of violence. ‘This was despite the fact the UK government had formally identified him as a victim of trafficking and that Esio had told CICA he had feared the gang would harm him, which should have been considered a crime of violence,’ the group adds. Esio died four days before the First-tier Tribunal was due to hear his appeal, after waiting three years for a CICA verdict.
The case of A and B v CICA was heard in the Supreme Court, which survivors with unspent sentences were prohibited from seeking payments. ATLEU intervened in the case, arguing that compensation could not be denied to victims who have been forced to perform illegal activities by their traffickers.
The failure to ensure access to free advice and representation has meant that survivors can find the process of applying to CICA for compensation difficult, lengthy and traumatic.
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