January 2024 \ Diaspora News \ Diaspora News

London: British Indian former Home Secretaries of the UK have been accused of operating a secret policy to deny 1,600 victims of trafficking their right to live in the country, according to a media report. The alleged action by the Home Office came despite a November 2021 high court ruling, which mandated that confirmed trafficking victims awaiting asylum decisions should be granted discretionary leave, the Guardian reported.

At a hearing this week, Priti Patel and Suella Braverman were accused of unlawfully failing to issue these decisions, which left the victims unable to access the right to work, study or claim mainstream benefits. The report mentioned a 22-year-old trafficking victim, represented by the charity Asylum Aid, who escaped drug traffickers in Albania when he was 16.

The traffickers forced him to sell drugs and were threatened to harm him, his family for refusing to comply. But as a result of the secret policy, he was denied leave to remain for almost 18 months, his lawyers claimed. In response the counsel for the Home Secretary argued that they had simply been waiting for the outcome of appeals to the court of appeal and Supreme Court against the landmark November 2021 ruling before acting.

“This case is about delay. It is not a case about secret or unpublished policies,” Cathryn McGahey, representing the home secretary, told the court. According to The Guardian, internal Home Office documents relating to the case showed officials recommended that the decision of granting leave to remain should be put “on hold”.

A July 2022 email from a Home Office official stated: “All discretionary leave decisions affected by (the November 2021 ruling) currently remain on hold. Our consolidated view is that this is not an option we can recommend to ministers. We continue to see judicial reviews lodged on grounds linked to the delay in implementing the … judgment,” an official from Braverman’s office said after being questioned about whether “doing nothing” was an option.

Counsel for the 22-year-old victim told the court this week that it is “unlawful to operate an unpublished policy which is inconsistent with a public policy.”


Tags: UK