Court of Appeal convenes special court to consider appeals for victims of trafficking

The Court of Appeal’s Criminal Division convened a Special Court presided over by the Lord Chief Justice and heard six conjoined appeals over 23 and 24 November 2016 against conviction and sentence brought by appellants who are victims of trafficking. Judgment has been reserved.

Our client Anti-Slavery International was given leave to intervene by written submissions by the Lord Chief Justice. An issue in the appeals is whether and in what circumstances the defence of duress can be available to victims of trafficking, (drug mules in particular), in compliance with the UK’s obligations under Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Palermo Protocol, Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive.

On the significance of the appeals, Dr Aidan McQuade director of Anti-Slavery International said,

“This case represented an important opportunity to re-state that the rule of law and the protection of human rights are fundamental in the struggle against slavery. But the shifting systems of coercion and violence that underpin modern slavery can obscure the rights and responsibilities of those with a duty to identify and protect victims of trafficking. Anti-Slavery is concerned that the criminal justice process is fair and does not defer to punishment over protection where victims of trafficking are concerned.”

Dr McQuade instructed Zubier Yazdani of DPG who instructed Shu Shin Luh, Maria Moodie and Felicity Williams of Garden Court Chambers. Anti-Slavery International’s legal team are all acting pro bono in order to make this important intervention.