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To: The Right Honourable Amber Rudd MP - UK Govt Home Secretary
Allow trafficked teen ‘Stephen’ to stay in UK
We appeal to the Rt Hon. Home Secretary to demonstrate just, and human, compassion and empathy by overturning, at appeal on 5th Feb, the Home Office’s original rejection decision on the Asylum and Humanitarian Protection application of ‘Stephen’ (name changed for his protection), the fostered son of a Reverend and his wife.
Why is this important?
Following the death of his only relative when he was 8 years old, ’Stephen’ was homeless and living on the streets in his native Vietnam where he fell prey at age 10 to a criminal gang who trafficked him to the UK aged 16 to serve as a slave labourer. He was rescued by the authorities in Tyneside and placed into foster care.
Since becoming part of the family, ‘Stephen’ has been able to acquire basic school education, evolved from a quiet and vulnerable child into a helpful and kind young man and reclaimed his life from his former captors. Now aged 19, ‘Stephen’ has not only a new family in our welcoming community, but has made friends and found a girlfriend.
He has also adopted the Christian faith, a factor which places him at risk of state persecution in his former country if (as the Home Office currently intend) he is forced to return to Vietnam. Furthermore we feel he would be ill equipped to survive a return to Vietnam, which would now seem a strange and unfamiliar place, with no support from a network of family and trusted friends there, and fear probable personal outcomes.
We feel that ‘Stephen’ should be allowed to stay in the UK where he now belongs, and given the opportunity to do what he wishes, which is to remain with his family, and friends, and to work here in order to give something back to the nation and community that reclaimed him from a life of crime and slavery. The Rt. Hon. Home Secretary has the shape of ‘Stephen’s’ future in her hands and we implore her to make a compassionate decision that reflects the generous and protective values of this country.
Sadly, Stephen’s case is not an isolated one. He is one of thousands of children and young people who are trafficked to the UK each year with many being sent back against their wishes after they turn 18. Child victims of modern slavery, like Stephen, need long-term support to recover from their abuse and rebuild their lives.
For more information, see the ECPAT UK (Every Child Protected Against Trafficking) website: https://www.ecpat.org.uk/demand-specialist-support-for-trafficked-children
You can also watch this short video which tells the story of another young man who, like 'Stephen' was trafficked from Vietnam and forced to work farming cannabis in the UK: https://player.vimeo.com/video/238558417