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Trafficking victims should be granted leave to remain in UK, high court rules

Trafficking

Trafficking victims should be granted leave to remain in UK, high court rules

Thousands of victims of trafficking who have been left to languish in the immigration system for years should be granted leave to remain, the high court has said in a landmark ruling.

Prior to the ruling, people the UK government accepted were foreign victims of trafficking could be sent back to their home countries, where they might be at risk of being trafficked again by the same criminals.

For that reason, many make claims for asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK. They then have to wait years in legal limbo before their applications to stay in the UK are processed by the Home Office and the courts.

During that time they cannot work, study or access mainstream benefits. Many say their emotional recovery from trafficking has to be put on hold while they wait, unable to move forward with their lives.

Tuesday’s ruling ordered that this group of trafficking victims who have asked for leave to remain in the UK be granted it en masse. This will apply to thousands of recognised victims of trafficking. If the Home Office decides to appeal it must lodge an application seeking permission to do so by 19 October.

The ruling followed a legal challenge against the Home Office by a 33-year-old Vietnamese woman who cannot be named for legal reasons. She was forced into sex work in Vinh City in Vietnam for about six months in 2016 before being forced to the UK by her traffickers, passing through several countries on the way, including Russia, Ukraine and France before arriving in November 2016 in the back of a lorry.

Between November 2016 and March 2018 she was forced to work in brothels and in cannabis production. In April 2018 she was recognised as a victim of trafficking, yet in October 2018 she was charged with conspiring to produce cannabis and pleaded guilty at Preston crown court. In December 2018 she was sentenced to 28 months’ imprisonment.

In May 2019 her lawyers again referred her for a trafficking assessment but the Home Office said it had no record of her case in their system. In July 2019 the Home Office found her trafficking records but in October 2019 locked her up in immigration detention.

Although she was recognised as a trafficking victim by the Home Office, her asylum appeal is ongoing and so she began legal action against the home secretary.

The devastating impact of her trafficking experience was outlined in evidence submitted to the court. She has been diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety and depressive disorder.

In his judgment Mr Justice Linden said: “The effect of the refusal to grant the claimant modern slavery leave is that she is subject to the so-called hostile environment underpinned by the Immigration Act 2014.”

The trafficking victim’s lawyer, Ahmed Aydeed of Duncan Lewis Solicitors, welcomed the ruling. He said: “We’re glad our client, and other survivors of trafficking, will no longer be left to live in this half-world, this legal limbo that has stripped them of their dignity and exposed them to further exploitation.

“Recovery is a vital form of relief for survivors of trafficking, and this will go a long way to assist victims in their physical, psychological and social recovery. Our client and other survivors will finally have access to education, training and they’ll finally have the right to work. Not only will this assist survivors of trafficking but it will also provide a direct financial benefit to the public purse.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The judgment does not state that leave must be granted to all victims of modern slavery, but that it may be necessary when a victim is pursuing a claim for asylum based on the fear of being re-trafficked. We are carefully considering the implications of this judgment. A decision on whether to appeal or not will be made in due course.”

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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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