TONIGHT: James Acaster spins Electronic Dance Music (EDM) tracks for anti-slavery Early Day Motion (EDM) #EDM4EDM

Tonight at 7pm (16/04/21) comedian James Acaster is spinning Electronic Dance Music (EDM) tracks in support of a Parliamentary Early Day Motion (EDM) to stop more trafficking survivors from being detained.

From 7pm (BST), as part of the #EDM4EDM gig, James Acaster will be playing Electronic Dance Music (EDM) tracks for Early Day Motion (EDM) 1696.

Three non-profits have joined forces to stream the set simultaneously at 7pm, Friday 16th April: After Exploitation (Instagram Live), Choose Love (Facebook Live) and Freedom United (Youtube Live)

Using the #EDM4EDM hashtag, charities, community groups and members of the public are invited to submit their messages of hope and support for Early Day Motion 1696 on social media, along with dance music requests. James will be giving shout outs to community groups and volunteers throughout the set and encouraging everyone to contact their MP during the campaign ‘power hour’.

Modern slavery survivors are already ‘slipping through the net’ and ending up behind bars due to their immigration history. Now, unless we act, Government will grant itself new powers to hold people in prison-like immigration detention settings, even when they are recognised as potential survivors of slavery.

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British comedian, James Acaster, said:

“I’m so proud to be involved in #EDM4EDM. The work that After Exploitation, Freedom United and Choose Love are doing, along with so many others, is essential. Anyone who simply believes in treating people humanely should get behind this cause also.”

The event is a vital way of securing support from MPs for Early Day Motion 1696, which could prevent planned changes to make survivors of trafficking provide ‘additional’ documentation before they can be released from detention.

Survivors of slavery are at greater risk of longer-term psychological and physical illness after time spent in detention, as they are experiencing a second deprivation of liberty after being held in restrictive and abusive conditions by traffickers. Survivors should be able to access early intervention and support, not longer waits and more fights to access the entitlements they need.

Since 2019 alone, 2,914 people entitled to trafficking support were instead held behind bars due to their immigration status. Now, the barriers to release – even for potential victims recognised by the Home Office – will be even higher.

A joint statement signed by 20 NGOs (including After Exploitation, Choose Love and Freedom United) in support of the EDM reads:

“We are deeply concerned by imminent changes to detention policy – due to become law on 25 May – which will increase the number of modern slavery survivors locked up due to their immigration status. The changes to vulnerability criteria, laid before Parliament without debate, will remove safeguards for people recognised as ‘potential victims of trafficking’.

In practice, even survivors recognised by the Home Office as being entitled to trafficking support, may still be held behind bars.

These changes will be catastrophic for victims who face increased risk of suicidal ideation, psychological and physical health deterioration if detained. It is unthinkable that survivors, already coming to terms with severe trauma and deprivation of liberty at the hands of their traffickers, are already failed for a second time under Home Office policy. Since 2019 alone, 2,914 potential victims were locked up for ‘immigration offences’ often related to their trafficking.

Now, if implemented, changes to detention guidance will be made to the detriment of survivors’ recovery. We must unequivocally challenge moves to weaken safeguards which should be urgently strengthened.

In a Committee response, the Home Office has acknowledged that more survivors could be detained under the changes. Now, MPs were only given #30DaystoAct before the Statutory Instrument comes into force. We urge MPs to support the fatal Early Day motion, tabled by Sir Keir Starmer, which would trigger a debate on the issue and introduce the possibility of annulling the change altogether by 22 April.

Seeking asylum is not a crime, and being trafficked makes you the victim of one. As organisations researching and supporting those affected, we are deeply concerned that both of these distinct but overlapping groups of highly vulnerable individuals will bear the brunt of anti-migrant policies already being enacted by Government behind closed doors.”

– ENDS –

About EDM 1696 and the changes to detention guidance

Under new policy, passed without debate, people recognised by the Home Office as ‘potential trafficking victims’ will still be liable for detention as a result of their immigration status.
Under sweeping changes, even those with a legal entitlement to trafficking support will have to provide additional ‘evidence’ of vulnerability to be considered for release from detention.

NGOs have condemned the changes, which will see safeguards further eroded for victims of trafficking wrongfully detained due to their immigration status. Since 2019 alone, 2,914 potential victims of trafficking who should have had access to safe housing, counselling, and medical intervention were locked behind bars due to their immigration status.[1] 

Now, changes in detention guidance will bring potential trafficking victims under a more ‘general’ policy for vulnerable people in detention, known as the ‘Adults at Risk’ (AAR policy).

These changes will downgrade the value of trafficking status within detention decision making, and introduce a higher evidence threshold for victims to access support.[2] As a result, more survivors “may be detained, and for longer” according to a submission to the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee.[3] Submitting concerns to the committee, non profits After ExploitationAnti Slavery InternationalBail for Immigration DetaineesFocus on Labour ExploitationFreedom From Torture, Medical Justice and The Helen Bamber Foundation explain:

“The very fact that a Potential Victim of Trafficking (PVoT) has been trafficked often leads to them having a negative immigration history. For example, being under the control of a trafficker may result in the person entering the country unlawfully, being unable to claim asylum as soon as they arrive, or being unable to travel in order to report.

Within the submission, Home Office evidence recognises that potential victims are entitled to certain rights such as those “under Articles 12 and 13 of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (ECAT)”. However, the Government submission argues that these rights “will continue” to be delivered within detention rather than in the community.

The changes have been made via a negative ‘Statutory Instrument’ (SI), which allows Government to make changes to guidance, under the banner of an existing Act of Parliament.[4] A ‘negative SI’ is not subject to Parliamentary debate or scrutiny, and the only way to annul this is through a ‘fatal’ Early Day Motion (EDM), which is being tabled tonight by John McDonnell MP. Specialist NGOs are encouraging MPs to sign the motion.

The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee (SLSC) called the Home Office’s consultation on the changes “poor practice” with limited NGOs involved, many of whom had only two weeks to respond. No survivor groups were included in the consultation. 

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