Encounters Short Film Festival

Unchosen’s Melissa Blackburn was honoured to share a panel with filmmakers David Ellington, Marco la Via and Hanna Ladoul on Thursday, discussing how film can best represent marginalized groups and encourage social change.

Lone children in Calais ‘Jungle’ camp ‘risking lives every night to get to UK’

21/9/16  Children in the Calais “Jungle” are risking their lives every night in attempts to reach the UK, Britain’s anti-slavery commissioner has warned.

Kevin Hyland is calling on ministers to step up efforts to address the plight of lone children in the camp, suggesting that youngsters are turning to smuggling gangs amid frustration at official routes for claiming asylum or joining relatives who are already in the UK.

In a letter to Home Secretary Amber Rudd, he painted a stark picture of the threats faced by children and other vulnerable individuals living in migrant camps such as the Jungle.

Mr Hyland’s recommendations are:

  • Strengthening efforts to identify, refer and assist potential victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.
  • Providing protection and better living conditions to unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable migrants.
  • Providing increased resources and efforts to ensure unaccompanied refugee children who are eligible for family reunification under Dublin III and relocation under the Immigration Act 2016 are proactively identified and brought to the UK.
  • UK law enforcement working closely with French counterparts in collecting intelligence on human trafficking and other criminal gang activity in the camps.
  • Improving understanding of the possible correlation between nationalities of migrants in Calais and potential victims of modern slavery identified and referred in the UK.


Theresa May calls on UN to meet challenges of globalisation

20/9/16 Theresa May will use her maiden speech at the United Nations to warn that it must work hard to remain relevant as too many people feel left behind by globalisation.

Speaking at the general assembly on Tuesday, she will draw attention to the British people’s decision to vote to leave the EU, arguing that they want a “politics that is more in touch with their concerns, and bold action to address them”.

The prime minister will argue that there is still a crucial role for international bodies such as the UN, even as people are wary of globalisation, but she will warn that it must modernise to meet the challenges of mass migration, modern slavery and terrorism. “We must recognise that for too many of those men and women, the increasing pace of globalisation has left them feeling left behind,” she will say.

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Theresa May takes campaign against modern slavery to the UN

19/9/2016  Theresa May is to take her campaign against modern slavery international. Mrs May will meet senior politicians and key US business figures and address the UN general assembly in New York on Monday and Tuesday. One of her main aims will be to “internationalise the work the UK has done on modern slavery”, a UK government official said.

She will host a meeting with representatives from other countries about how to step up co-operation between law enforcement officials across borders, and look at other ways to expand global policies to combat the crime.

Opposing modern slavery is one of the causes closest to the prime minister’s heart, and something she championed while at the Home Office. Legislation introduced last year made Britain the first country in the world to require companies with turnover of more than £36m to publish the steps they are taking to eradicate the crime from their supply chain.

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Six arrested in gang crime, trafficking and slavery clampdown in Thurrock

14/9/16  SIX people were arrested during an operation targeting gang crime, human trafficking and modern slavery last week.

Officers from the Operational Support Group worked alongside the Casualty Reduction Unit and Commercial Vehicle Unit to run Operation Keats in the Thurrock area on Thursday, September 8, 2016.

Supported by HMRC, Immigration Enforcement and the Romanian Embassy, officers identified potential offenders with the help of Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology before taking them to stop check sites in the area.

During the operation, three men were arrested on suspicion of immigration offences. Two men, aged 47 and 56, were arrested after officers stopped the vehicle in which they were travelling at the Moto Services at Thurrock at 6pm. Both had entered the UK illegally.

A 34-year-old man who had over stayed his student visa was arrested after officers stopped and checked a separate vehicle in which he was a passenger at the Moto Services.
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Pop-Up Brothels and Sex Slaves ‘Blighting’ Britain’s Capital

12/9/16 Despite the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act in Britain, the number of women forced to work as sex slaves in illegal brothels in London is increasing. Police officers expect more than 1,000 people to be held as slaves in the capital.

Victims are exploited in the sex industry, as domestic servants, on building sites, in car washes, or forced into labor. Kevin Hyland, the UK’s independent anti-slavery commissioner is calling on people living in London to help police combat sexual slavery that was “blighting the capital.”

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Hundreds of child refugees have vanished since arriving in the UK, prompting trafficking and abuse fears

5/9/2016  Hundreds of child refugees are missing in the UK, The Independent can reveal, amid fears they have fallen victim to human traffickers or other forms of exploitation such as sexual abuse or modern slavery.

Authorities have no idea of the whereabouts of 360 of the vulnerable children, or even if they are safe. More than 200 have been missing for over two years, prompting serious concerns for their safety.

Campaigners and MPs say the figures, released to The Independent by the Home Office under freedom of information rules, show the children have been “failed” by Theresa May’s government and are “being let down by a system which is meant to keep them safe”.


Slaves at sea

16/08/2016 Sometimes it is difficult to believe that we are living in the 21st century and not the beginning of the 19th, when life was cheap and a good deal more brutal.

But earlier this month the UK brought into force the Modern Slavery Act, which has become necessary because of the trafficking and widespread criminality, in which real, live slavery is flourishing under our very noses, in a country which more than two centuries ago, saw slavery abolished.

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Freeing girls trafficked to Italy for sex: ‘You will not be a slave for ever’

9/8/16 Thousands of women and girls are being trafficked to Italy from Nigeria, into a life of forced prostitution. Abused and desperately vulnerable, they have a champion in Princess Okokon, who was herself trafficked from Nigeria in 1999. Okokon fled her captors, and, with her husband, Alberto, set up the NGO Piam Onlus. Together they have helped hundreds of women in Asti and Sicily to escape their traffickers, giving them refuge and support ….

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Nigerian faces jail after conviction for human smuggling in UK

4/8/16  Franca Asemota, a 38 year old Nigerian woman was on Wednesday found guilty of eight counts charges of conspiracy to traffic people into sexual exploitation by a jury at Isleworth Crown Court, United Kingdom.

A report in Daily Mail indicated that British investigators linked Asemota from Benin city to over six human trafficking trips during which she smuggled over 40 girls and young women into the European country for prostitution through the Heathrow Airport hub.

She was also found guilty of kidnapping of two of the girls who escaped and had been placed in foster care.

The girls were smuggled from remote Nigerian villages with promise that they are going to get better life in Europe, but ended up being forced into prostitution.

Franca, according to the newspaper, then used ‘witchcraft’, threats and violence to force them into sex trade on arrival in Europe.

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