Belfast Telegraph

'Sex slave' wins court battle over her status

BY ALAN ERWIN

A Nigerian woman who fled to Northern Ireland amid claims of having been forced into sexual slavery has won her High Court challenge to being denied human trafficking victim status.

The UK Border Agency failed to properly investigate her account and reached an unfair decision, a judge ruled yesterday.

Mr Justice Treacy's verdict means the authorities must reconsider her case before any steps can be taken to remove her.

The woman, referred to as RE, arrived in Belfast in March 2011 and presented herself to Alliance Party offices and a city mission.

She claimed to have been first trafficked from Nigeria to Portugal in 2003 by a family friend known to her as 'Progress', under a false pretence of finding legitimate work.

Instead, she said she was taken to a brothel and forced into prostitution.

According to her account she first escaped to Spain in 2006 and claimed asylum.

But she said she returned to Portugal because Progress had organised an assassin to target her family back in Nigeria.

Following further attempts to flee she fell back into the hands of her captors and was made to work as a prostitute in Madrid, the court heard.

In 2010, a friend helped RE get to Dublin where immigration officers said they would investigate her case.

She left and crossed the border after an associate of Progress allegedly told her she had nowhere to go and nowhere to hide.

An assessment was then carried out by UK Border Agency. In August 2011 it concluded she had not been the victim of trafficking and was liable for deportation.

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