Indians Among Largest Number of Foreign Nationals Facing Slavery in UK: Report
As many as 90 Indians facing slavery were referred to authorities in 2016, according to a report by National Audit Office.
As many as 90 Indian citizens were victims of modern slavery during 2016 in the United Kingdom, according to a report by public watchdog National Audit Office. The number is a conservative estimate as it only counts people who have been reported to authorities. India is among the top eight countries whose citizens were referred to UK authorities as being victims of slavery.
“The campaign to drive out modern slavery is in the early stages,” NAO head Amyas Morse said in a statement. “So far it is helping to establish the scale and international nature of this issue. To combat modern slavery successfully, however, government will need to build much stronger information and understanding of perpetrators and victims than it has now,” he added.
“Modern slavery is a barbaric crime that destroys the lives of victims across the globe,” a Home Office spokesperson was quoted as saying by the Independent. “We welcome the NAO’s report’s recognition of the work we have done to identify the issue and put in place the ambitious Modern Slavery Strategy and the Modern Slavery Act 2015 – the first legislation of its kind in the world.
“Since the NAO examined our work on modern slavery we have made significant strides in a number of areas it identifies in its report.”
Indian citizens accompany their employers using a domestic worker’s visa and but end up in abusive situations with poor wages, and unable to change their employer after arriving in the United Kingdom, the report, released on Dec. 15, said. Albania, with 472 referrals, topped the list in the report, followed by Vietnam with 292 people embroiled in modern slavery.
Campaign groups such as Human Rights Watch, Kalayaan and Southall Black Sisters say that Indians are among the largest number of foreign nationals facing such situations.
Permila Tirkey’s case is an example of modern slavery. She was employed as domestic help by an Indian-origin couple and was under severe restrictions. She was paid much below United Kingdom’s minimum wage, and her passport was withheld by the employers. Tirkey was awarded £184,000 by an employment tribunal in 2015.
There were between 10,000 and 13,000 potential victims of modern slavery in the country in 2013, as per Home Office estimates in 2014. The report, titled “Reducing Modern Slavery,” said the authorities had an “incomplete picture of the crime,” the victims and the perpetrators.
The report added that until the government is able to establish effective oversight of the modern slavery system as a whole, it will not be able to significantly reduce the prevalence of modern slavery or show that it is achieving value for money.
Modern Slavery Strategy was introduced by the UK government in 2014 to curb the prevalence of the practice. The 2015 Modern Slavery Act made provisions for slavery, servitude, forced labor and for human trafficking, including those for protection of victims and for an independent anti-slavery commissioner. Only 80 prosecutions were held under the Modern Slavery Act for 155 offences in 2016.