The disgrace of Tory MPs voting to lock up more modern slavery victims

April 29, 2021 12:22 PM

MD Mominul HamidThe Liberal Democrats have accused Conservative MPs of "placing anti-immigration ideology ahead of tackling the scourge of modern slavery", after the Tories voted for new legislation that will weaken safeguards for victims and lead to more of them being held in immigration detention centres.

The Immigration (Guidance on Detention of Vulnerable Persons) Regulations were passed by 358 votes to 270, with all Liberal Democrat MPs voting against.

Following the vote in the House of Commons, Newcastle Liberal Democrats' Diversity Officer Md Mominul Hamid, himself a victim of modern day slavery, said:

"This is a disgrace and an affront to civilised society. Victims of trafficking and modern slavery should never be held in immigration detention. It is unnecessary, expensive and inhumane.

"This legislation will result in more victims of trafficking and modern slavery being locked up in detention centres and detained for longer.

"Yet again, the Tories are placing anti-immigration ideology ahead of tackling the scourge of modern slavery.

"That's why Liberal Democrats voted against the Tories' legislation. We are calling for immigration detention to be an absolute last resort, to save both misery and money."

BACKGROUND

The Government's Immigration (Guidance on Detention of Vulnerable Persons) Regulations change the rules for how decisions are made on detaining people who have been identified as potential victims of trafficking or modern slavery.

Expert organisations, including Anti-Slavery International, Focus on Labour Exploitation and Freedom from Torture, opposed the new Regulations, arguing that they "downgrade protections afforded to potential victims of trafficking" and "will result in even more victims of trafficking being detained and being held for longer".

Under the current Modern Slavery Act guidance, a potential victim of trafficking will generally not be detained (or will be released if already detained) unless they have a history of offending. Under the new guidance, the decision on whether to detain potential victims will include various factors including their immigration history - which is often negative due to their having been trafficked. Victims will also have to provide additional evidence that detention is likely to cause them harm.