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UK: immigrant domestic workers victims of trafficking

Monday 31 March 2014

Human Rights Watch has denounced the absence of protection for domestic workers in the United Kingdom.

On March 31, 2014, Human Rights Watch published a report entitled "Hidden Away : Abuses against Migrant Domestic Workers in the UK". This report denounces the living conditions of numerous domestic workers of non-nationl origin who are victims of trafficking with a view to dommestic servitude in the United Kingdom and suggests that the UK is not meeting its internataional obligations. The United Kingdom had in fact put in place, in April 2012, a ’tied visa’ system whereby migrant domestic workers cannot legally leave their employer and find new work, a system reminiscint of the kafala system practiced in the Gulf region.

According to Human Rights Watch: "The British Home Secretary Theresa May is bringing forward a modern slavery bill to tackle serious labor abuses in the UK. In December 2013, May presented a draft bill that would increase penalties for slavery, servitude, forced labor, and human trafficking from 14 years to life imprisonment. But the bill makes no reference at all to the plight of domestic workers. A parliamentary committee is reviewing the draft bill and is due to publish a report in early April."

Human Rights Watch also notes that the United Kingdom was one of only nine countries which, in 2009, refused to sign the International Labour Organization (ILO) Domestic Workers Convention, which came into force September 5, 2013.

Read more here and find a copy of the report here.

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