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Victims of modern slavery deserve financial compensation

The Law Centre is calling for measures to be put in place to reduce the vulnerability of victims of modern slavery and labour exploitation to re-trafficking. The call coincides with EU Anti-Trafficking Day on 18 October which seeks to increase awareness of the issue.

In the last three years, 138 potential victims of slavery were identified in Northern Ireland. Whilst these figures may appear small, it is believed that they represent the “tip of the iceberg” because many victims are not identified. 

A report published by the Law Centre found that the current system is not equipped with a contemporary understanding of modern slavery, and that legal avenues of redress are not fit for purpose.

The Law Centre believes that financial compensation can reduce the victim’s vulnerability to re-trafficking, and in psychological terms, is a powerful symbol of justice that can help them move on with their lives. 

Director of the Law Centre, Ursula O’Hare, said:

“Modern slavery can take a range of different forms, including trafficking and forced labour, and it happens today in Northern Ireland.

“A victim-centred approach is needed for those entrapped in modern slavery to ensure that wrongs are acknowledged, and that people have the means to be able to move on from the emotional and physical damage which can follow as a result of exploitation.”

The Law Centre is calling for three key changes to be implements to help victims of modern slavery, which are:

  1. Introduction of  a state-funded scheme that would enable victims to secure unpaid wages arising from their ordeal;
  2. A new civil wrong of “labour exploitation that would allow recovery of compensation for injury to feelings; and
  3. Provision of legal aid for those who wish to take civil proceedings either at the Industrial Tribunal or in the civil courts.

Full report and recommendations here.

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