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UKs Richest Family On Trial For Human Trafficking

10th July 2024

Modern slavery must remain on the political agenda at this UK election, Hope for Justice's policy and programmes experts have insisted. It comes as the UK's richest family are on trial in Switzerland for human trafficking and exploitation.

The charges against the Hinduja family relate to their practice of importing servants from India to look after their children and household, the BBC reports.

Prakash and Kamal Hinduja, together with their son Ajay and his wife Namrata, allegedly confiscated staff passports, paid them a measly $8 (£7) for 18-hour days, and limited their freedom. 

A financial settlement was reached last week relating to the exploitation charges. But the Hindujas remain on trial for human trafficking. They deny the charges. 

The news story was published just two days after International Domestic Workers Day, with the IDWF calling on governments across the world to ratify ILO Convention no. 189. This grants domestic workers the same rights as other workers. For example, it sets a minimum age for domestic workers, it requires members to ensure that domestic workers enjoy fair terms of employment and decent working conditions, and charges governments with protecting workers against abusive practices. 

Below, Hope for Justice's programmes and policy teams speak into the issues of domestic work, the UK's restrictive visa schemes and their impact on overseas workers, and keeping modern slavery on the agenda. 

International Domestic Workers Day
Just this week, renewed calls have been made for domestic workers across the world to be recognised as care workers, and to receive workers' rights. To mark International Domestic Workers Day (16th June) the IDWF is calling for governments to ratify the ILO Convention no. 189, the Domestic Workers Convention, which would guarantee domestic workers the minimum labour protections afforded to other workers (in most countries, domestic workers are afforded little or no protections that other workers would have).

Hinduja family on trial for human trafficking
Domestic servitude is one of the most clandestine and under-reported forms of modern slavery, owing to its private residential setting, making it difficult to tackle.   

Domestic servitude typically involves victims working in a private family home. They may appear to be nannies, care workers or carrying out other domestic help, but if they are prevented from leaving a property of their own free will, it becomes exploitative. Victims may be ill-treated, humiliated, subjected to unbearable conditions or working hours and made to work for little or no pay. Often, these individuals do not speak the language of the country they are in, which can leave them trapped and unsure where to turn for help.   

Traffickers and criminals are making an estimated $2.6 billion in illegal profits every year from adults and children trapped in domestic work.    

Survivors in these exploitative situations often face a loss of earnings. Child domestic workers may also lose access to their education and fall behind in their studies, placing them at a disadvantage.    

Survivors face immense challenges, even after leaving exploitation. They may face barriers to accessing healthcare, mental health support, education, civil justice or compensation, to name a few.

Hope for Justice calls for UK Government to keep modern slavery on the agenda
At the end of last year, MPs on the Home Affairs Committee, which scrutinises the work of the Home Office, said human trafficking was ‘no longer a priority' for the UK Government.  

This global issue is far from resolved. And it needs a renewed, united response from all governments. 

We need to ensure that tackling modern slavery stays on the political agenda this election, and that we adopt a holistic approach. 

In keeping with the principles agreed by more than 60 anti-trafficking NGOs, Hope for Justice has made several recommendations for the future UK government - actions that they should take in their first 100 days.

Read the full story and much more HERE