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R (Atamewan) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] 1 W.L.R. 1959

DATE: 06 Sep 2013

In R (Atamewan) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department [2013] EWHC 2727 (Admin), the Divisional Court (Aikens LJ and Silber J) considered whether the Home Office policy guidance which is intended to give effect to the UK’s obligations under the the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings (“CAT”) had misinterpreted the Convention.

Declining to follow the judgment of Philip Mott QC (sitting as a Deputy Judge of the High Court) in R (Y) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWHC 1075 (Admin), Aikens LJ (with whom Silber J agreed) held that the Home Office guidance was erroneous in its treatment of historic victims of trafficking in excluding them from the category of persons to be treated as “victims” and entitled to appropriate assistance and support under the CAT. People who had historically been trafficked were to be treated as “victims”, albeit the degree of assistance and support to which they are entitled would depend upon the extent of their present needs (see paragraph 73 of the judgment).

The Court accepted the Defendant’s invitation not to rule on the interpretation of Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combatting trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, which seeks to ensure protection against trafficking within the European Union, on the basis that it had not come into effect at the time of the material facts in the present case. A separate challenge to the decision of the Defendant to certify the Claimant’s asylum claim as ‘clearly unfounded’ was dismissed.

Charles Banner appeared for the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with James Eadie QC (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor).