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Thousands of potential trafficking victims held in immigration centres, data shows

immigration

Thousands of potential trafficking victims held in immigration centres, data shows

More than 4,500 people have been held in immigration detention in the UK before being released into the community and only then identified as potential victims of trafficking, official figures for the past five years show.

Charities claim the figures demonstrate a “detain first, ask later” attitude that runs counter to the fight against modern slavery and suggest others are probably being deported without having been referred for support. They fear the situation will be exacerbated by the nationality and borders bill, which they say makes it harder to identify victims.

Maya Esslemont, the director of the charity After Exploitation, which obtained the data, released to coincide with anti-slavery week, said: “It is terrifying that, as hard evidence shows just how often survivors are punished rather than supported, the government would put considerable resource behind making the trafficking decision-making process even stricter.

“In thousands of instances, we have seen some of the most vulnerable people in the UK face conditions which have not been conducive to disclosure of their abuse. Aside from the moral imperative to make trafficking support more readily available to those who need it, it is clear that the government’s ‘detain first, ask later’ approach to immigration detention is completely obscuring the state’s ability to identify human trafficking, and is running counter to its goal of fighting modern slavery.”

The figures, obtained through a freedom of information request, show that between 2016 and 2020 4,565 people were identified as potential trafficking victims under the national referral mechanism (NRM) after leaving immigration detention, usually intended for people who are to be removed from the UK. The number for the first three months of this year was 68.

Emma Harris, an immigration and asylum barrister at Goldsmith Chambers, said: “This is a strong indication that there are likely to be victims of trafficking who have been removed or deported from the UK without ever being referred to the NRM for the recognition and support that they were entitled to.”

In 2020, nine of 10 final decisions of the NRM found the person referred had a victim of trafficking and/or modern slavery, Harris added.

Home Office detention gatekeepers, who assess suitability for detention, have a legal duty to identify suspected trafficking victims and give survivors the opportunity to opt into the NRM. Without a referral, survivors are unable to access support such as housing, counselling and legal support.

The Home Office has previously acknowledged that an effect of the nationality and borders bill may be that some individuals are “more likely to be detained, or have their detention continued, than would currently be the case”.

After Exploitation and other charities are calling on the government to scrap the plans.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Decisions to detain are made on a case by case basis and vulnerable people will only be detained in very specific circumstances, such as for the protection of the public. Staff in immigration removal centres undertake training on the NRM and as a result potential victims of modern slavery are regularly identified in detention.

They said the plans would “ensure that asylum, human rights claims, and any other protection matters are considered at the earliest opportunity”.

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News

Supreme Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Adeleke’s Candidacy

The Supreme Court has affirmed Ademola Adeleke as the authentic candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the just concluded Osun State Governorship Election.

This has laid to rest the suit filed by Dotun Babayemi, a governorship aspirant of the party who sought the invalidation of Adeleke’s victory.

In a judgement delivered by Justice Amina Augie, the five-member panel held that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit after counsel for the appellant, Adebayo Adelodun, withdrew the earlier notice of appeal that was filed within time.

At the resumed hearing, Adelodun, who represented the appellant and Babayemi informed the court that he sought to withdraw the earlier notice of appeal to replace it with the fresh application he filed.

But the panel held that Section 285(11) of the constitution stipulated that an appeal on a pre-election matter must be filed within 14 days from the day of the decision, and that having filed the second appeal out of time, the apex court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

Justice Augie, therefore, dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Babayemi had asked the court to invalidate the primary election that produced the governor-elect, citing non-compliance with a court order.

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News

400 Staff To Lose Jobs As BBC Goes Digital

The British Broadcasting Corporation BBC world service has on Thursday disclosed that about 400 of its staff will lose their jobs as part of a cost-cutting programme and move to digital platforms,

The BBC said its international services needed to make savings of £28.5 million ($31 million) as part of wider reductions of £500 million.

In July it detailed plans to merge BBC World News television and its domestic UK equivalent into a single channel to launch in April next year.

BBC World Service currently operates in 40 languages around the world with a weekly audience of some 364 million people.

But the corporation said audience habits were changing and more people were accessing news online, which along with a freeze on BBC funding and increased operating costs meant a move to “digital-first” made financial sense.

BBC World Service director Liliane Landor said there was a “compelling case” for expanding digital services, as audiences had more than doubled since 2018.

“The way audiences are accessing news and content is changing and the challenge of reaching and engaging people around the world with quality, trusted journalism is growing,” she added.

 

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Environment

Hurricane Ian: Cities flooded and power cut as storm crosses Florida

Hurricane Ian: Cities flooded and power cut as storm crosses Florida

Hurricane Ian made landfall at around 15:10 local time (19:10 GMT) on Wednesday, smashing into the coast with wind speeds of up to 241km/h (150mph).

Dramatic scenes saw a hospital roof blown off, cars submerged and trees ripped out of the ground.

The category four hurricane was later downgraded to a tropical storm.

However, Floridians were warned that the most dangerous 24 hours lay ahead and the mayor of Tampa urged people to shelter in place through the night into Thursday morning.

“We are going to get the majority of the rain and the higher winds starting about 20:00, and they are going to last throughout the night,” Jane Castor said during a Wednesday evening briefing.

In a message posted on Facebook, the Weather Prediction Center told residents in the Central Florida Peninsula to expect “widespread life-threatening, catastrophic flash and urban flooding” continuing into Friday morning, with potentially up to 76cm (30ins) of rain falling locally.

Residents were ordered to leave their homes, but many have decided to remain and seek shelter indoors.

Mark Pritchett, who lives in the city of Venice, some 95km (60 miles) south of Tampa, described the “terrifying” moment he stepped outside his home as the hurricane made its way across the Gulf of Mexico.

“Rain shooting like needles. My street is a river,” he said in a text message to the Associated Press news agency.

In Lee County – the south-west region where Ian made landfall – police were prevented from responding to reports of looting at a petrol station because of the storm damage.

As a result, a curfew has been declared “until further notice”.

Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais said that the Fort Myers community had “been – to some extent – decimated”. According to news agency AFP, some neighbourhoods in the city of 80,000 had been left resembling lakes.

State Governor Ron DeSantis described Ian as the “biggest flood event” south-west Florida had ever seen, and announced that 7,000 National Guard troops are ready to lead rescue operations in flood zones.

President Joe Biden will receive a briefing on Thursday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Ian is now continuing to move north through Florida. Jacksonville International Airport, based in north-east Florida, cancelled all flights scheduled for Thursday.

The storm is forecast to emerge into the Atlantic by Thursday morning.

It is expected to reach Georgia and South Carolina on Friday. Virginia has also joined Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida by declaring a state of emergency.

Cuba’s western coast was hit by Hurricane Ian on Tuesday. Power has now been restored in some areas after the island was plunged into a total blackout. Two people are understood to have been killed in Cuba and more than 20 Cuban migrants are believed to be missing at sea.

Predicted path of Hurricane Ian. Updated 27 September

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