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Child slavery victim to plead to stay in UK with support of thousands

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Child slavery victim to plead to stay in UK with support of thousands

Post Vendég on Tue 6 Feb - 12:16

Child slavery victim to plead to stay in UK with support of thousands

Almost 120,000 sign petition to reverse ‘grotesque’ decision to deport Stephen, trafficked to the UK to farm cannabis aged 10

A child slave trafficked into the UK at the age of 10 and forced to work in a cannabis factory will on Tuesday plead to stay in the country with the backing of over 116,000 people.

The 19-year-old, known as Stephen to protect his real identity, was rescued by a vicar and his wife three years ago in County Durham, taught to read, and has become a pillar of the parish church community. But in a decision that has been described as “grotesque”, the home secretary, Amber Rudd, informed the teenager late last year that his plea for asylum had been refused.

The refusal letter said he showed “considerable personal fortitude” in reaching the UK. He and three other children were marched 3,000 miles across Europe in a journey so arduous that one of the other youngsters died, according to his local MP.

The Church of England has rallied around the 19-year-old and a petition asking Rudd to reconsider has attracted nearly 120,000 signatures.

The bishop of Durham, the Right Rev Paul Butler, has written a letter of support after Stephen personally addressed the diocesan synod about his plight. His fate will be decided when he appears before a judge at an asylum and immigration appeal on Tuesday. The decision is expected to be known in two to three weeks.

Stephen – who believes his life would be in danger if his true identity was revealed – lived a brutal existence for six years from the age of 10 as a slave to cannabis farmers who forced him to tend £2m worth of crops hidden in houses across the UK. In a recent interview with the Guardian, he said that he was forced to smoke cannabis, drink vodka and whisky with every meal, and take a white powder that he believes was cocaine. He said he was beaten, exposed to dangerous chemicals and exposed wiring, tied up by rival drug dealers, and locked indoors for long periods of time.

In 2015, when he was 16, he was found in a cannabis farm in Newcastle and came under the care of Rev David Tomlinson, 54, and his wife Davina, 52, who have fostered 65 young people in the course of their lives.

The couple welcomed Stephen into their vicarage and managed to enrol him into a Durham college where he learned English and began to excel at his studies, making friends and even finding a girlfriend.

Stephen said: “I want to be able to work and live in this community that has given me so much. I want to show how much it means to me that they rescued me from that life. To be sent back to Vietnam would be returning to my death. I have nowhere to go, I have no one, and the gang warned all of us that if we ever escaped them, they would find us and kill us. If I have to go back, they will find me.”

Helen Goodman, MP for Bishop Auckland, said: “He did not travel here independently, which is what the letter from the Home Office seems to imply. The refusal letter says he ‘demonstrated considerable personal fortitude in travelling to the UK and attempted to establish a life here’.

“In fact he was brought here as a trafficked child who was made to work in slavery, This is not evidence of his ability as a vulnerable young person to return to a country he left as a child. His victimhood is being turned against him, and that is grotesque.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection and every case is assessed on its individual merits. If someone is found not to need our protection, we expect them to leave the UK.”

https://www.theguardian.com/law/2018/feb/06/child-slavery-victim-to-plead-to-stay-in-uk-petition-stephen-trafficked-cannabis

I feel sorry for the guy. I hope he can stay there.

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Re: Child slavery victim to plead to stay in UK with support of thousands

Post Neon Knight on Wed 7 Feb - 9:32

I meant to do a thread on this story so you've saved me a job and reminded me about the petition which I've now signed. Generally, I think we accept refugees too easily but there are a small number of truly deserving cases and this is one of them.


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Post Vendég on Wed 7 Feb - 18:13

@Neon Knight wrote:I meant to do a thread on this story so you've saved me a job and reminded me about the petition which I've now signed. Generally, I think we accept refugees too easily but there are a small number of truly deserving cases and this is one of them.


I'm glad we thought the same, and you sign this petition. Thumb-Up

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