A large number of Vietnamese potential trafficking survivors in the U.K. are being detained and caught up in plans for deportation under a fast-track system of removing people seeking asylum from the U.K.
Home Office documents from May seen by the Guardian expose how the U.K.’s interior ministry planned to swiftly remove more than 100 Vietnamese nationals seeking asylum on a charter flight in July despite them being potential victims of trafficking.
Authorities detained over 100 Vietnamese nationals en masse who crossed the English Channel by boat earlier this year and processed them through the Detention Asylum Casework (DAC) fast-track system, which enables authorities to detain and quickly deport people seeking asylum if their case is “deemed to have no merit”.
Under the Home Office’s own guidance, this system must not be used for those who are seeking asylum on the basis of fearing traffickers or moneylenders.
The Guardian reports:
“The DAC process can only be used for cases [the] Home Office believes are doomed to fail based on their reasons for claiming asylum. The Home Office’s own internal guidance suggests that this process cannot be used for Vietnamese nationals who are in fear of moneylenders or traffickers. All of those we came into contact with were claiming asylum for these reasons.”
“We suspect that not a single person who was detained as part of this strategy was removed on any of the charter flights.
“The main impact of this policy has been to ensure that many of these individuals are now back in the hands of their traffickers. The next contact they have with a lawyer is likely to be when they are arrested following raids on the cannabis houses run by the traffickers.”
While all of the Vietnamese nationals who were able to come into contact with lawyers and NGOs were released from detention and not deported upon being recognized as potential victims of trafficking, people seeking asylum arriving in the U.K. who do not speak the language or have a support network are significantly more vulnerable to being put at risk of unjust deportation and unable to advocate for themselves in detention.
Freedom United is urgently calling on the U.K. and all states to cease detaining potential trafficking survivors and vulnerable people seeking asylum in prison-like settings and immediately release all potential and confirmed trafficking survivors from detention.
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