Migrant boat
15 October 2021 | News

Home Office Planned Speedy Removal of Vietnamese Trafficking Victims

The Home Office Immigration Enforcement function has recently come under fire for misusing the Detained Asylum Casework procedure to expedite the deportation of over 100 Vietnamese migrants who may be victims of human trafficking.

Documents marked as “Home Office Confidential” refer to Operation Ammonite, an exercise in which the Home Office chartered two flights to return around 50 people to Vietnam.  The plan, however, intended to transport many more people on the second flight.

The criticism centres on the point that the DAC procedure is only intended for use where asylum cases to not have merit and are therefore not deemed to require investigation.  Lawyers acting against the decision are arguing that the Home Office’s own guidelines make it clear that the procedure should not be applied here as there is clear evidence of trafficking.  A discussion in a Facebook group said that although some on the flight opted to return, several more were effectively coerced into signing the repatriation documents because they had been kept in the immigration camp for so long.

It is believed that 140 Vietnamese were detained in May 2021 were reluctant or unable to seek help due to their inability to speak English and that they likely owe smugglers large sums of money; migrants who do speak English or have formed community links while living in the UK are more likely to attempt to obtain legal help if sent to a detention centre.  The 140 eventually made contact with lawyers, and were subsequently released.  However, it is thought that many were picked up by traffickers and forced to work in modern slavery conditions to repay their debts to the traffickers.

In recent months there has been a notable increase in the number of Vietnamese asylum seekers attempting to cross the Channel by boat, due in part to the reduced number of large vehicles on the roads, and fear of travelling in lorries since the 2019 incident that resulted in the deaths of 32 Vietnamese nationals.

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