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Borders Bill proposals reduce protection for modern slavery victims, says Bishop

by Kelly Valencia

The Bishop of Bristol has criticised planned changes to the law on modern slavery as she believes it would reduce protection for victims. 

Speaking in the House Lords, the Right Revd Vivienne Faull, who leads on modern slavery for the Church of England, raised concerns over Part Five of the Nationality and Borders Bill, which is currently being scrutinised in the House Lords. 

Under proposed measures, asylum seekers making a claim would be required to provide evidence of exploitation within a period of time. If the claimant fails to deliver the proof required, it could potentially be seen as damaging the applicant's credibility.

Bishop Vivienne said she finds some elements of the bill "disheartening".

"The numbers who remain trapped and incapable of receiving the support they need outstrip by an enormous margin the relatively small numbers seeking to abuse the system."

"This is the time to be accelerating and to be increasing our engagement to break the business models that exploit and sustain and enslave human beings.

"It is not the time to be making it harder for victims to come forward."

But for Justice Minister Lord Wolfson of Tredegar the clauses are "from deterring victims" but are "intended to encourage genuine victims to come forward and get protection and support at the earliest possible occasion."

"It is right, I suggest, that we reduce the opportunities to misuse the system for immigration purposes and to improve the efficiency of the processes, targeting resources where they are most needed to help victims recover from exploitation and rebuild their lives."

He continued: "What clauses 57 and 58 seek to do is to ensure on the one hand that vulnerable victims receive appropriate and timely support, while on the other hand enable investigative and enforcement activities to take place at reasonable despatch."

The Bill has now completed the committee stage in the House of Lords and will undergo further scrutiny at a later date.

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