Raising awareness as part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month
January 2020 is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, as decreed by presidential proclamation. January is also known as Human Trafficking Awareness Month. It is a key time for us all as individuals to educate ourselves about human trafficking and crucially to learn to spot the signs of trafficking. It is also a time for us take these messages to our workplaces, our churches, our schools, our representatives and everywhere else.
At Hope for Justice, we investigate cases of human trafficking and work closely with law enforcement to rescue victims and ensure evidence is gathered against perpetrators to see them brought to justice. Our team of investigators is drawn from some of the most respected and prestigious law enforcement agencies in the country, such as the FBI and NCIS.
National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, January 2020, culminates in the annual observation of National Freedom Day on February 1, 2020.
We believe that awareness leads to action – so everything you can do where you live to help raise awareness could ultimately help rescue more victims of human trafficking. We need more people to be aware of the facts and of the signs and to feel confident to report their concerns to an expert group like Hope for Justice.
Hope for Justice has created a library of resources for your use during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, including downloadable posters that can be printed and social media graphics to share.
Visit hopeforjustice.org/national-slavery-and-human-trafficking-prevention-month/ to find out more.
‘She was left in limbo’ – breakthrough for slavery victim seeking home and security
A victim of trafficking who was exploited for three years has received indefinite leave to remain in the UK in the form of settled status.
The woman, in her 40s, was trafficked into the UK from another European country and forced to work for little or no pay. She has been a victim of human trafficking and of forced labour, working in factories, on farms and cleaning, all the while having her wages taken from her.
Changes to the government’s welfare system in 2014 drastically restricted her access to any financial provision, and without clear immigration status she was “left in limbo”, with no access to income, accommodation or support.
In early 2019, the woman was referred to global anti-slavery charity Hope for Justice, who have been providing legal advice and advocacy for the victim ever since.
One of the charity’s advocates, who has led on the work, said: “This woman has endured years of hardship. She has had very little stability and was incredibly vulnerable. The systems in the UK had never been fully explained to her and she had never received the right support. She experienced a long period of homelessness and when we first met with her she had been stuck in limbo for a number of years.”
Since Hope for Justice became aware of the victim, the charity’s Independent Modern Slavery Advocate (IMSA) – who ensure that survivor’s legal rights and entitlements are upheld – has interceded on her behalf on a near-daily basis. Work has involved liaising with the council, with an accommodation provider, with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and solicitors, among others.
The IMSA said: “Receiving her settled status has been a big breakthrough. While there is still more work to be done, this is a huge step forward in her case, which will help us to secure her accommodation and financial stability in the UK going forward.”
Victim of slavery freed after 18 months under control of traffickers
ANTI-SLAVERY charity Hope for Justice is celebrating the rescue of a victim who has been freed after 18 months of exploitation and control.
Mathias* has suffered at the hands of employers who made him a victim of systematic forced labour; he was coerced to work under threats. Mathias came to Trondheim, in central Norway, with the promise of a job that was too good to refuse.
He was told that working for this company would provide him with an income, lodgings and a positive work environment.
But on arrival Mathias was placed in a small apartment with several other workers. He was forced to work long days, and had large amounts of money deducted from his salary.
“I was fearful of going to the police, afraid that I would get into trouble," he said, "so I continued working long hours for little or no pay. But things only got worse.”
Hope for Justice, which has its headquarters in Manchester, UK, were contacted by an organisation who had identified Mathias as a potential victim of slavery. The global charity's team of investigators, working alongside other groups and partners, were able to intervene and rescue him.
A member of the Hope for Justice team in Norway said: “Even though they have had suspicions, the police have not found any cases of human trafficking in Trondheim since 2015. Hope for Justice identified Mathias as being exploited through forced labour. He expressed much gratitude for getting the help he needed.
“This is one step, one life, closer to a world free from slavery.”
Hope for Justice expanded into Norway in August 2015, opening an office in Stavanger, and recently opening a new investigative Hub in the capital, Oslo. Initially, the programmes have focused on identifying survivors of modern slavery and assisting in their ongoing care and recovery process.
The charity is also raising awareness by providing training and equipping professionals on the frontline, such as police, social services and immigration officials.
On November 7, for example, 200 students at the Norwegian Police University College in Bodø, north Norway, received training on how to spot the signs of modern slavery.
*Name changed to protect identity of victim