Landmark High Court verdict in UK

20 January 2009

Anti-Slavery International welcomes the landmark decision by the High Court yesterday (19 February 2009) to compensate four Moldovan women trafficked into forced prostitution in the UK with more than £600,000 in damages, and calls for the compensation of trafficked people to become part of mainstream criminal proceedings.

The women, all in their twenties, were tricked into leaving Moldova with the promise of finding work as dancers. Each borrowed £20,000 upfront from the criminal gang for bringing them to Britain.

The women were kept captive and forced to work in brothels across London. They were forced to have sex with up to 40 men daily, fed just one meal a day, and fined for refusing to have unprotected sex. The women paid £300 a day in ‘rent’ and were even charged for using cutlery. The women never saw a penny of their earnings.

Klara Skrivankova, trafficking programme co-ordinator at Anti-Slavery International said: “This is a case of trafficking, debt bondage and slavery. In light of the High Court’s verdict it is time for compensation to become a mainstream part of all criminal proceedings in trafficking cases.

“Sadly it is not uncommon for women from across the world to be tricked by unscrupulous individuals with the promise of a better life. Though no amount of money can possibly make up for the nightmare of slavery, compensation plays an important role in helping trafficked people recover from the physical, emotional and financial losses of their ordeal, as well as providing a sense of justice.”

This is the first time that a court has dealt with a compensation claim for a trafficking case, though the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority awarded nearly £100,000 in July 2007 to two Romanian women also trafficked and forced into prostitution.

It is estimated that at any one time there are 5,000 trafficked people in the UK. All forms of human trafficking constitute a criminal offence in the UK and carry a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison. By May 2008 there had been 86 convictions for trafficking for sexual exploitation.

A UN report on global trafficking released last week found that 99% of trafficking victims are never identified, with less than 22,000 of the 2 million people estimated to be trafficked globally each year reported to the authorities.

For further information:

  • For press contact or to arrange an interview with Klara Skrivankova: PaulDonohoe, Anti-Slavery International Press Officer, on 44 (0)20 75018934/07779 624 385
  • Definition for trafficking
    Trafficking involves transporting people away from the communities in which they live, through the use of violence, deception or coercion, for the purpose of exploitation.
  • Anti-Slavery International
    Anti-Slavery International is the world’s oldest human rights organisation and campaigns for the eradication of slavery, exposing current cases, supporting local organisations to release the minimum 12.3 million people in slavery, and the implementation of international laws against slavery.
  • Please take action to urge the Government to ensure that victims of trafficking are able to access their right to compensation.