Vietnam Time

3/27/2017 4:04:59 PM

Vietnamese teengagers enslaved in UK cannabis farms

Being locked or staved is the common condition of many Vietnamese teengagers trafficked and slaved in UK cannabis farms.

According to The Guardian, over the past decade hundreds of Vietnamese young men and women have been trafficked to the UK every year. While women and girls are sent to work in nail salons or in the sex industry, men are forced to do tend small,illegal cannabis farms.

A cannabis farm in the UK (Photo: The Guardian)

Beaten if not finishing the work

“It was terrible, the first month. I wanted to go out, to talk to someone. I almost felt like I was going mad. But by the second month I was getting used to it’’, Tung – 15 years old, told The Guardian.

Another boy, Bao was 15 when he was brought to the UK and left alone with hundreds of cannabis seedlings. “When I arrived, I was told that from now on I would have to take care of the plants,” he says, remembering the day when he was driven by a Vietnamese man and woman to the small second-floor flat, already filled with black plastic pots containing small cannabis plants. He had no idea what they were or why he had to care for them.

There was enough food in the freezer to last him a month, and he was told that if he did a good job, he would be brought a new supply of food. In the same breath, they warned him: “If you don’t do the watering properly, we will stop bringing you food and you will starve.”

Most of the time, Bao was alone, sometimes for as long as three weeks, with no human contact. Occasionally, two men would visit to inspect the plants, to assess whether the shoots were thriving. This was a moment of high stress. “They poked the earth in the pots to see if it was dry. I felt scared when they checked. They said if it was not good enough for them, they would beat me up.”

Bao, 15 (photographed to protect his identity), was told: ‘If you don’t water properly, we will stop bringing you food.’ (Photo: The Guardian)

Police failing to tackle the problem

There was a lack of urgency and absence of commitment from police, said Kevin Hyland, who descried the intelligence gathering system to tackle slave trafficking and other forms of slavery as “a mess”.

Cananbis farms are discovered every week, he told the Guardian. When they are identified they are not properly investigated. Police forces had ‘’not pushed forward with the urgency I would expect.’’

Vietnam is one of the biggest source countries for trafficked slave labor into the UK, but there has never been a success prosecution of a people trafficker from Vietnam, Hyland said.

Hyland said there was insufficient intelligence gathering done by the police when they raid cannabis farms.

When the farms are raided, people on site are arrested. When police recognized that they are victims of trafficking, prosecution are dropped, but often the people are referred to immigration detention centers. Those underage are put into the care systems, but often go missing and return to their traffickers. ‘’If simply a mess’’, said Hyland./.

VNF/ The Guardian  
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