Funding from Esmée Fairbairn has allowed The AIRE Centre to undertake this project which addresses two main issues:
The AIRE Centre has significantly expanded its provision of advice and representation for victims of human trafficking and their representatives and has provided several essential training sessions for practitioners working with trafficked persons. The AIRE Centre has successfully advised and advocated on behalf of EU victims of trafficking who have found it difficult to assert their rights to protection and assistance under the Council of Europe Trafficking Convention including the right to a residence permit under this Convention and also in social assistance and social security appeals.
In addition, the AIRE Centre has played a major role, as representatives or as a third-party, in trafficking and Article 4 cases before the European Court of Human Rights. Our work before the European Court has made it possible for victims of trafficking who have been denied adequate protection, assistance or whose cases have not been investigated domestically to now bring their claims to the Court. It has further enabled victims of trafficking in European countries that have not ratified the Council of Europe Trafficking Convention, to apply to the European Court of Human Rights for remedies.
The second branch of this project provides advice and assistance to victims of domestic violence and their representatives. The advice provided often focuses on the rights of EEA nationals or of Third Country Family Members to remain in the UK and to access social assistance following the breakdown of marriage or on divorce.
It is generally the case that victims of domestic violence leave their family home under circumstances which makes it impossible for them to collate their belongings and papers. Following incidents of domestic violence, spouses often refuse to cooperate with their vulnerable partners. Nevertheless this fact remains unacknowledged by the UK authorities and lack of documentation remains a standard ground for refusing both immigration status and access to social assistance and social security benefits. The AIRE Centre has been able to mount a number of challenges against these refusals which are currently before the relevant tribunals.
We are also working closely with other organisations, particularly the Immigration Law Practitioners Association, to advocate on behalf of those who experience domestic violence before the European institutions responsible for implementing legislation that affects them. Since September 2009 we have twice visited the European Commission in Brussels to discuss the situation of migrants, particularly migrant women and children, in the UK who experience domestic violence.
The AIRE Centre has also been working to highlight issues surrounding violence against women in general. In conjunction with the Sexuality, Gender and Law Clinic based at Columbia University in the U.S., the AIRE Centre was granted permission by the European Court of Human Rights to intervene in the case Solomon v Spain (Application No. 47159/08) which involves violence against a sex worker of ethnic minority by Spanish police.