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Vietnamese victim of trafficking loses case on Home Office's 'systemic failings'

Sam Tobin is at the High Court

A YOUNG Vietnamese man who was trafficked into Britain as a child lost his case yesterday that the Home Office’s alleged failure to provide him with support in immigration detention was “illustrative of systemic failings.”

The man, referred to only as H, was 16 or 17 when he was trafficked into Britain to work on a cannabis farm, where he was arrested in October 2013.

He absconded and was not located until February 2016, when he was detained and eventually sentenced to eight months imprisonment for cannabis production.

He was “released” in June 2016 but went straight into immigration detention while the Home Office tried to deport him, despite having considered there were “reasonable grounds” to suspect that he had been trafficked.

H told several members of staff at the various immigration removal centres (IRC) he was held in that he had been tortured by his traffickers and had also been “raped on several occasions.”

He is currently bringing separate claims against Morton Hall IRC and the Ministry of Justice, over alleged failures to properly respond to his report of an attempted rape by a fellow detainee, and against Derbyshire and Merseyside police forces.

Dr Frank Arnold, who examined him in May 2017, considered that H suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, that detention was having an “adverse effect” on his mental health and it was “highly likely” that detention had “compounded psychological damage.”

H was finally released on bail in June 2017. In May, the Home Office admitted that the “entire period of [H’s] immigration detention was unlawful” and that he was entitled to “substantial” damages.

But his lawyers also argued that the Home Office had failed to provide him the support he needed in immigration detention, given his “complex mental health diagnosis and needs,” and that H’s treatment exposed a “wider problem” in the government’s treatment of trafficking victims.

Mr Justice Nicol, however, dismissed H’s application for judicial review, ruling that the Home Office were not obliged to provide medical support just because H was a victim of trafficking.

He also said it would be “inappropriate” to make a declaration on whether or not there were “systemic problems with the procedures for dealing with victims of trafficking.”

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