Trafficking victims win appeal against convictions

Date: 21st June 2013
Category: Access to appropriate information

Three Vietnamese children who were trafficked to the United Kingdom by criminal gangs and forced to commit drug offences have had their criminal convictions quashed.

The three children were arrested following police raids on cannabis factories, where they were forced to work by criminal gangs, and later sentenced for drug offences. The Court of Appeal overturned their convictions, finding that their criminal activities were "integral" to their status as trafficked children.

The Court has also issued guidance to courts on how possible trafficking victims should be treated by the criminal justice system. Lord Chief Justice, said: "Whether trafficked from home or overseas, they are all victims of crime. That is how they must be treated."

In an entirely separate case, heard at the same time, a Ugandan woman in her mid-30s also had her conviction overturned. She had been sentenced to six months in prison in 2011 after pleading guilty to possessing a false passport.

But the court heard she was suffering from complex post-traumatic stress disorder after "prolonged exposure to involuntary prostitution and enforced control" and that the passport offered her the prospect of escape.