Human trafficking is a multi-million pound business, with victims often ending up in the sex trade. (bawso.org.uk)
Human trafficking cases reported in the UK are on the rise, and the court system continues to prosecute victims, says rights lawyer.Bawso

The number of reported human trafficking cases in the UK is rising, according to a new US State Department study.

And while the UK government brought in new laws to fight slavery earlier in 2015 with the Modern Slavery Act passed in March, victims are still being charged for their trafficker's crimes.

Authorities identified 2,340 potential trafficking victims from 96 countries in the UK in 2014 in contrast to 1,746 cases identified in 2013, according to the US 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report released on 27 July. Female victims made up 61% of the total and males 39%.

Albania, Nigeria, Vietnam, Romania and Slovakia were the top five countries adult and child slaves in the UK came from. Trafficking for domestic and other forms of labour was the most common among adults and children at 49% and 42% respectively. Sex trafficking made up 40% of the total cases for adults and 24% for children.

Despite the new laws to tackle the problem, some victims still are being detained and prosecuted for crimes committed while subjected to trafficking.

In 2014 the UK prosecuted a Vietnamese child for growing marijuana, and a judge sentenced two Vietnamese men to a year in prison and deportation for the same even though it was acknowledge they were enslaved.

"I think the bill is very poor on victim protection," said barrister Parosha Chandran in November 2014 while the new law was being written. "It is well known that human trafficking and slavery flourish in countries where victim protection and victims rights are weak".

In the UK, she has helped victims appeal cases where they were punished as criminals even though they were forced by traffickers into the crimes they committed.

US Secretary of State John Kerry presented Chandran with the Trafficking in Persons Report hero award 2015 at the State Department in Washington DC on 27 July for her work.

The UK, Canada, US and other developed nations sit on the first tier of the list. Many countries on the Tier 2 Watch List — including Burma, Guyana, and Cambodia — avoided downgrades because they have written plans for how they will improve their standing.

Although the US and its performance does not appear in the report, Sarah Sewall, Under Secretary of State for Human Rights, said: "Modern slavery exists here in the US. One of the distinguishing of modern slavery is that it will continue to challenge those countries that have the most resources."