R (on the application of Y) v Secretary of State for the Home Department

20.04.2012 and 25.01.2013


[2012] EWHC 1075 (Admin) (20 April 2012) and [2013] EWHC 62 (Admin) (25 January 2013)

Judicial review of a decision of the Secretary of State that Y was not a victim of trafficking under the Council of Europe Convention, resting on the interpretation of a ‘victim’ under Article 4 of the Convention, and on the meaning of actions being ‘for the purpose of’ exploitation. The Court was satisfied that Y had been trafficked and that the purposes of the Convention require identification of ‘past victims’ as well as recent ones.

Y was a Chinese national who claimed to have been trafficked into the UK and then within the UK for the purpose of sexual exploitation. The Secretary of State had decided that there were no ‘reasonable grounds’ to believe that Y was a victim of human trafficking under the 2005 Council of Europe Trafficking Convention because her trafficker’s intention to exploit her had not been present until she had failed to pay for her passage to the UK. Further, the Secretary of State argued that even if Y had been a ‘victim of trafficking’ under Article 4 of the Trafficking Convention, the passage of time meant that she was not a ‘victim of trafficking’ any more.

The court held that whatever the intentions of Y’s traffickers on her way to the UK, they had intended to exploit her while she was harboured within the UK. The court also held that the identification of victims of trafficking under the Convention required the Secretary of State to identify people who may have been trafficked in the past.

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