Two young Refugee Council clients gave evidence at a trial of a sex trafficker who was sentenced to 20 years in prison on 29th October 2012.
The girls, who are supported by the Refugee Council’s Children’s Section, were chief witnesses to the prosecution and gave evidence about their own experiences of being trafficked from Nigeria for exploitation in the UK.
Osezua Osolase, based in Kent, was found guilty of five counts of trafficking for sexual exploitation at Canterbury Crown Court.
He was said to have used juju witchcraft to silence young girls and smuggle them into the UK, when he then attempted to ‘sell’ them on to gangs in Europe for sexual exploitation.
Heading the Investigation for The Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate was Detective Inspector Eddie Fox, who said: “Osolase led these girls to believe a better life awaited them in the UK, he preyed on vulnerable girls who had no one to care for them and would not be missed. The mental and physical scars inflicted by Osolase will remain with the victims for the rest of their lives and I am confident they are now being given the support and care they need to help them move forward.”
The judge sentencing him said that he was "devoid of conscience, devoid of compassion to [his] victims".
Helen Johnson, Operations Manager of the Refugee Council Children’s Section said: “It was incredibly brave of our young clients to stand up in court and recount their experiences of being trafficked to the UK by this man. It is thanks to them and other people who came forward that justice has been done.
“Every day we work with young girls who have been through similarly horrifying experiences, and we see the lasting effects trafficking can have on them. We are constantly amazed by their resilience, and that they have the strength to start rebuilding their lives here.”
Andy Radcliffe, from the UK Border Agency’s Criminal and Financial Investigations Team, said: “Osolase took advantage of his victims’ vulnerability and subjected them to a terrible ordeal. Given these circumstances the girls showed tremendous bravery to give evidence against him.
“Our officers are trained to protect those who may be suffering abuse at the hands of traffickers, but without the courage of victims who come forward it remains a challenging crime to identify. This is why combating trafficking is a multi-agency effort, bringing together colleagues in Border Force, UK Border Agency and the Police. I hope this case gives other victims confidence that they can speak out and that decisive action will be taken against those who deal in this abhorrent criminal trade.”
Last year the Government identified nearly 500 children trafficked to the UK and more than 2,000 adults trafficked to the UK, yet there were only eight convictions under human trafficking legislation, according to ECPAT.
The Refugee Council has a specialist Young Women's Adviser, Vesna Hall, who works with vulnerable young women and girls, including those who are victims of trafficking, to start rebuilding their lives here, through therapeutic services, social activities, and education projects.