A Moldovan woman has received a "groundbreaking" settlement from the Home Office the day before her case was due to be heard in the High Court.
The Moldovan woman was a repeated victim of sex trafficking, having been kidnapped at the age of 14 and continually trafficked and re-trafficked until she was 21 years of age.
The woman, who cannot be named for reasons of the protection of her and her family, was arrested in 2003 by police and immigration officers in a brothel in London. The woman was charged with possessing false documents which had been provided to her by her traffickers.
She was then prosecuted for the offences and imprisoned for three months in the UK. At the end of the three months, she was sent back to Moldova through a fast-track immigration process. There was no investigation made of her trafficker.
Upon her return to Moldova by UK authorities, the woman was then located by her traffickers and severely abused. She was then trafficked back into prostitution for a further two years.
In 2007, UK authorities again arrested her and held her at an immigration detention centre. Thankfully, the woman was eventually identified as a victim of sex trafficking and referred to the Poppy project.
The Poppy Project is a UK based organisation set up to provide accommodation and support to women who have been trafficked into prostitution or domestic servitude. It was set up in 2003 and is funded by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform, which reports to the Ministry of Justice.
The Poppy project was able to provide her with the necessary support to make an asylum claim. She has since been granted refugee status in recognition that the Moldovan authorities could not offer her adequate protection against her traffickers.
She is now to be paid an unspecified, but said to be substantial, settlement by the Home Office for returning her to Moldova and failing to protect her, despite clear evidence that she was at risk from her traffickers. It is hoped the "groundbreaking" settlement will encourage immigration authorities to treat trafficked women as victims instead of criminals.
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