Dame Sara Thornton publishes a policy paper on access to compensation and reparation for survivors of human trafficking


The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Dame Sara Thornton has today published a policy paper which evaluates some of the key issues around access to compensation and reparation for victims of human trafficking in the UK.

The International Labour Organisation estimates that approximately $150 billion in profit is generated globally by forced labour every year. Yet few survivors receive financial compensation for the trauma that they have endured, with many experiencing significant barriers in being able to access any form of remedy.

In her Strategic Plan 2019-2021, Dame Sara noted a commitment to working with partners to assess the extent of issues relating to the availability and quality of legal advice, including where this can help survivors pursue compensation claims. Between November and December 2021 the IASC ran a survey for law enforcement practitioners which included questions on access to compensation and reparation. This was followed by a roundtable in February 2022 for key stakeholders to discuss concerns regarding access to legal advice to help survivors recover compensation as well as the ability to use confiscated funds to provide survivors with reparation.

This policy paper seeks to bring together key findings and make observations on where further work is needed, focussing on two pathways for accessing compensation and reparation. It concludes that in order to fulfil its obligations under international law the UK must improve access to compensation for survivors of trafficking by putting financial investigation at the centre of modern slavery investigations, making the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme more accessible to survivors, and improving data collection and analysis of claims made and awarded.


Dame Sara Thornton, Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, said:

Compensation and reparation for survivors of trafficking can be hugely significant in providing financial security to reduce vulnerability and the risk of re-trafficking, in enabling individuals to re-integrate into communities, and in providing acknowledgement of the harm that they have suffered. In some circumstances it can also be an important contributing factor to the punishment of traffickers.


In the UK compensation and reparation for survivors is happening far too infrequently and we must do more to correct this. The legal and practical recommendations made in this policy paper aim to strengthen our response. I have been encouraged by conversations with key stakeholders, but we must ensure that constructive dialogue is converted into effective action to help achieve justice for those individuals who deserve it most.”




Access the paper here.