BLOG: Human Trafficking & Family law

Human Trafficking Family Law

On October 19th 2019, in cities around the world including Liverpool, people took part in the Walk for Freedom to raise awareness of human trafficking.

The movement, organised by charity A21, seeks to highlight the prevalence of human trafficking globally and to bring an end to modern slavery for good.

So what is modern day slavery/human trafficking?

The United Nations has defined it as;

‘the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by improper means such as force, abduction, fraud or coercion, for an improper purpose including forced labour or sexual exploitation’.

It may surprise you that we need a slavery Act in the 21st century, but the most recent legislation (The Modern Slavery Act) is only four years old having been enacted in 2015.

That act looked at offences in respect of slavery, servitude human trafficking and committing an offence with intent to commit a trafficking offence.

Local authorities often get involved with families when these issues are alleged and can result in care proceedings.

In a recent case, two children from Namibia had been brought to the UK by their grandmother for trafficking purposes. The Local Authority applied for Interim Care Orders which were granted, and the children were placed in foster care.

The local authority subsequently applied to withdraw their application as their view that the children had been trafficked had changed, a view shared by the court appointed Children’s Guardian. They now believed the grandmother’s account of how and why she brought them to the UK.

The court was not initially satisfied with the grandmother’s account and the children remained in foster care pending further enquiry before the court were finally content that the children had not been trafficked. The court directed that the children were to be returned to Namibia with their grandmother.

A study commissioned by the CAFCASS Child Exploitation Group in June 2017 on trafficking and child sexual exploitation found that most cases involving child sexual exploitation and trafficking were in public law proceedings and actually involved females being moved within the UK.

CAFCASS also identified the areas of private law work where there have been trafficking concerns and they were found in Child Arrangement Orders, Prohibited Steps and Parental Responsibility Applications.

Human Trafficking/Sexual Exploitation & Family Law.

Human trafficking is prevalent in our society and the fact that family members are involved in nearly half of all child trafficking cases is evidence that Family Law practitioners should have more than an awareness of this issue.

They must also be able to identify possible indicators that a child may have been trafficked or is at risk, and be able to enter into dialogue about this with other professionals and in the court arena.

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