Victim of Human Trafficking Wins Appeal Against conviction

On 21st June 2013 the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction of THN for cultivation of cannabis in a very important and potentially far reaching decision. The court recognised that victims of human trafficking should not be prosecuted and criminalised for offences committed whilst under the compulsion of human traffickers.

THN was a minor who was smuggled into the UK via a human trafficking network. He was forced to work in a cannabis cultivation operation and when arrested and charged, pleaded guilty to the offence. We did not represent THN in the original proceedings but were instructed on appeal.

This is an important victory for victims of human trafficking; the judgement gives guidance on the accountability of the various professional bodies involved in cases where trafficking has been raised. It is imperative that any defence solicitor dealing with a case in which there may be a suspicion that the client has been trafficked is aware of this case and the appropriate authorities are alerted.

This judgement brings us one step closer to implementing properly the anti trafficking and anti punishment provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (the Anti Trafficking convention).

Three other Appellants were also joined to this appeal and the Children’s Commissioner for England and The Equity and Human Rights Commission both acted as interveners due to the important issue it raised.

THN was represented by Philippa Southwell of Birds Solicitors. Counsel were Henry Blaxland QC and Michelle Brewer both of Garden Court Chambers. We have numerous other clients in a similar position where their cases are either with or on their way to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, the Court of Appeal or the Crown Court in its appellate capacity where the matter was dealt with in the Youth Court or Magistrates’ Court. Anyone who believes they may have a case which would fit within the criteria and wishes to challenge the conviction should contact us immediately.

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