Spain sex trafficking case lodged to U.N. shows lack of protection for victims - charity

by Lin Taylor | @linnytayls | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 19 May 2017 15:28 GMT

An African migrant holds on to the fence of a Spanish government-run temporary immigrants holding centre in Spain's north African enclave Melilla in this 2014 archive photo. REUTERS/Juan Medina

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"Trafficking victims should never be held in detention centres, since they are victims, not criminals"

By Lin Taylor

LONDON, May 19 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The case of a Nigerian woman trafficked into Spain, who was later deported while pregnant, was presented to a United Nations rights committee on Friday to highlight the lack of protection for sex trafficking victims, a women's legal charity said.

After being trafficked to Spain and forced into prostitution, Gladys John was detained by police in 2010 and deported just days later, said Women's Link Worldwide, which represented John at the time.

The legal charity submitted John's case to the U.N.'s Committee Against Torture on Friday, saying she was "tortured" as a sex trafficking victim and then "faced torture again" when she was detained instead of protected by the Spanish government.

"Trafficking victims should never be held in detention centres, since they are victims, not criminals. And they most certainly should not be deported, but protected," Women's Link attorney Teresa Fernandez Paredes said in a statement.

"Today we don't know if Gladys John is alive or dead. Spain is responsible for her disappearance, because she placed her trust in the authorities, and the state failed her," Paredes added.

The Spanish government did not respond to requests for comment.

Though John was 11 weeks pregnant, the charity said she receive no prenatal care when she was in detention and suffered "inhuman and degrading" treatment even though the U.N.'s refugee agency UNHCR had identified her as a likely trafficking victim.

Women's Link also lodged John's case to the European Court of Human Rights in 2012, but it was dismissed in 2016 because John, being in Nigeria, was unable to provide written consent proving that she wanted the charity to represent her.

Globally some 4.5 million people are trapped in sexual exploitation, according to the United Nation's International Labour Organization, generating an estimated $99 billion in illegal profits a year.

(Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, global land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, women's rights, climate change and resilience. Visit to see more stories)

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