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Vietnam: risks of re-trafficking on return

Wednesday 20 May 2020

This update is provided for information and training purposes only and is not legal advice. Anyone affected by the issues raised in this paper should obtain professional legal advice from a solicitor, barrister or regulated immigration advisor.

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  1. Asylos and ARC Foundation recently released a new report, “Vietnam: Returned victims of trafficking from the UK”. It is a compilation of evidence about the risks of re-trafficking, state protection and internal relocation for Vietnamese victims of trafficking returned from the UK.
     
  2.  The report provides key new evidence which needs to be considered by Home Office decision-makers and Tribunal judges in dealing with asylum claims/appeals by Vietnamese trafficking victims. In my view, the evidence clearly shows that many Vietnamese trafficking victims are at serious risk of re-trafficking on return and are unlikely to be able to avail themselves of sufficiency of protection and internal relocation.
     
  3. This key evidence is not adequately reflected in the recent Home Office Country Policy and Information Note “Vietnam: Victims of trafficking” released in April 2020.  In my view, insofar as the CPIN suggests that many victims will be able to access effective protection from the state, it should not be followed.

    Summary
     
  4. Many victims of trafficking are at serious risk of re-trafficking on return, due to their economic vulnerability on return, problems in accessing employment and/or social services, the stigma/shame associated with being a victim, and unpaid debts to traffickers/illegal moneylenders.
     
  5. As regards the Vietnamese state’s ability to provide protection, the Vietnamese legal definition of trafficking does not fully comply with international standards. In particular, Article 150 of the Penal Code (which criminalises trafficking of adults) requires proof that the victim was forced, threatened or lured. Article 151 (which criminalises trafficking of children) only applies to children under the age of 16 and not to children aged 16-18. People who went with their traffickers voluntarily may not be recognised as victims of trafficking. So some victims of trafficking will not be recognised as victims under Vietnamese law and will therefore be unable to access state protection and access services and accommodation provided by the state.
     
  6. Although the Vietnamese state provides access to shelters (known as Social Protection Centres) and reintegration/rehabilitation assistance for some victims of trafficking, access to these services requires the victim to obtain a certificate provided by the police that they are a victim of trafficking. For many victims it is extremely difficult to obtain such a certificate. Some sources say that most victims do not get recognised, and survey data suggests that only 1 in 10 victims receive any assistance. Some sources indicate that services were focused on female victims of sex/marriage trafficking who were trafficked across borders, while male victims received much less attention; and that it is not acknowledged that males can be victims or be sexually abused/exploited (see paragraph 27 below). Recognition as a victim by the UK’s NRM will not automatically lead to the victim being certified as a victim of trafficking in Vietnam by state officials there. So many victims will not be able to obtain a certificate to access services provided for by the state.
     
  7. Without the certificate, victims of trafficking may be unable to access housing/social support or reintegrate into society due to their lack of identity documents. This exposes them to an elevated risk of re-trafficking.
     
  8. Even with the certificate, the social support available through the state is relatively limited. Victims can only stay in government-run shelters for 60 days. There are some non-state shelters but these are relatively few in number and some have closed due to lack of funding. Some victims are reluctant to access shelters, in particular due to the stigma/shame associated with trafficking, and the shared accommodation in shelters may be re-traumatising for some victims.
     
  9. Internal relocation will not cure the economic/social vulnerabilities, including lack of employment and services/support, that expose a victim to an elevated risk of re-trafficking. Indeed it may exacerbate them, having regard to the household registration ho khau system that limits a victim’s ability to access services/support in a new area (although this system is apparently to be abolished in 2020). Some traffickers have the ability and willingness to track down their victims elsewhere, particularly where the victim owes an unpaid debt to the traffickers, and there are reports that highlight the collusion between the police and trafficking rings.
     
  10. Insofar as the Home Office CPIN suggests that victims are likely to be able to access effective protection from the state, this conclusion is unjustified and largely unexplained and should not be followed.

    Risk of re-trafficking
     
  11. The joint report by Asylos and ARC Foundation (from now on referred to as ‘the Asylos/ARC Foundation report’) provides compelling evidence that victims of trafficking who are in an economically/socially vulnerable position are vulnerable to re-trafficking on return (see section 7.1 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report). This is attested by a number of sources. Hong Thi Tran, trafficking researcher interviewed for the Asylos/ARC Foundation report, states:

    “So the victims always face a risk of being re-trafficked because we need to understand why they were trafficked. For example, were they looking for a job, an opportunity and they got returned? Normally the victims do face a lot of economical, and social, and psychological issues when they are returned. So being re-trafficked so the exploitation can happen, or even become a trafficker. This is the context for many Vietnamese victims trafficked to China. Often many return and become a trafficker themselves so that's also the danger also to the society that is a vicious circle that also impact and affects many people [...]

    But the risk of re-trafficking is quite prevalent when a victim returns and can't receive or is unable to receive the support and end up facing a lot of mostly, economic difficulties. Upon return, VoTs usually feel low self-esteem, due to shortage of economic, financial, family support...They are therefore very vulnerable for any fraudulent promises to help. And discrimination, of course, is one of the sources that puts the victim into isolation and they're unable to receive the support.”

     
  12. Hoa Nguyen, trafficking specialist, interviewed for the same report states:

    “When victims go home they often don’t go through the government system and then they get re-trafficked. Some cases we know are re-trafficked straight away when they get back to the airport in Vietnam or back to their families. Protection is loose and not strong. Many victims become traffickers and they come back and bring more victims for the traffickers”
     
  13. The United States Department of State states:

    “Civil society reported Vietnamese victims who migrated via irregular means, were involved in criminal activity as a result of their trafficking, or had criticized the Vietnamese government feared reprisals from Vietnamese government authorities, were less likely to seek support, and were vulnerable to re-trafficking.”
     
  14. ECPAT UK/Anti-Slavery states:

    “Vietnamese adults and children who are trafficked to Europe and then returned to Vietnam are at risk of re-trafficking and reprisals. If a Vietnamese national leaves Vietnam via irregular means, is involved in criminal activity or has criticised the Vietnamese Government, there is significant risk to their safety upon return to Vietnam. If victims have spoken to the police and/or still owe a debt to their traffickers, they are likely to be at risk of re-trafficking or reprisals from their traffickers and/or the Vietnamese authorities. There is limited support available in Vietnam for returned victims; leaving them at risk of being re-trafficked or even becoming a trafficker themselves.”
     
  15. There is evidence that traffickers can track down their victims on return (see section 7.1.3 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report). Most traffickers come from the same district as their victims. Some victims contacted their traffickers themselves, whose phone numbers they kept. A source interviewed for the Home Office fact-finding mission also states that traffickers can track down their victims through bribing police/local officials.
     
  16. Unpaid debts to illegal moneylenders are also a major risk factor for re-trafficking, with the “Black Society” (illegal moneylenders/organised crime) tracking down victims after return (see sections 7.1.3.1-7.1.4 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report). Bernie Gravett, Anti Trafficking Expert, interviewed for the Asylos/ARC Foundation report states:

    “[...] If they're [VoT] carrying a debt, and the majority are. They are carrying the debt of that 20,000 US dollars to come to the UK, then that debt still exists. And the Black society, or their traffickers, will hunt them down and they've still got to pay off that debt. So how do they do that? They still haven't got a farm. They still are struggling to get housing. They can't access work because you can't get work without a national identity card. So they're ripe for being re-trafficked [...]”
     
  17. BBC reported:

    “That's a worry shared by Vietnamese trafficking expert Mimi Vu, who says that people who have been trafficked and returned are at serious risk of being re-trafficked, especially if their traffickers claim they owe them money [...]”
     
  18. Debbie Beadle from ECPAT UK told the researchers for the report:

    “[…] There is a real risk of re trafficking because they-- as in many of these cases, they have got a debt to pay. So I think if you look at the news reports in a recent case one of the males interviewed from Vietnam was like, "I've tried quite a few times to come to the UK.” And we know that lots of trafficking rings are quite organized, and so they're fearful to go back to the country to be re-trafficked [...]

    The main risk is risk of re-trafficking and the exploitation, and they will have to pay off that debt, or their family will have to. So I think what we've identified is that there is a little pressure from their family as well to pay off that debt. So if they went back to family, that would be something of concern and shame if they hadn't paid off the debt. So I think it's worse for people in Vietnam, this is one of the strongest risks because most of them have a debt that they have to pay off […]”

     
  19. Sources quoted at section 7.2 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report state:

    “[...] I've dealt with 40, 45-year-old men who can't read or write Vietnamese. Can't read or write English. They go into the immigration detention center, and then are removed from the UK. They go back as an undocumented Vietnamese citizen who has brought dishonor onto the country, still in debt, can't get housing, can't get a job. Then, all those circumstances that led to them traveling in the first place still exists. All the Black Society, all the traffickers will approach them again, either through their families because that’s who they went through in the first place. And they will say, "You still owe us." So they'll end up in Russia or another country […]

    […] A victim of trafficking I interviewed was traced down by the the same traffickers, because he returned without success. And so that means that before he left, he had a big debt and the trafficking ring arranged for him to go to the UK-- and he worked in a cannabis farm and then returned. When he was later raided by police, in prison and then returned and tried to run away from the trafficker because he couldn't work and earn enough money to pay off the debt. So it happens, that they can be traced down by their original traffickers […]”

     
  20. Societal stigma and discrimination faced by victims of trafficking is also a risk factor for re-trafficking, which may lead to future victimisation and relapse into the trafficking cycle (see section 7.1.6 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report). Stigma and discrimination by the victim’s own family/community is a factor for male victims (see section 7.2.1 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report) and female victims (see section 7.3.1 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report). Female victims also face stigma in relation to prostitution/sexual exploitation (see section 7.3.2 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report) and their children may face discrimination for not being registered in the ho khau household registration system (see section 7.3.2.2 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report).

    State protection, support and assistance for victims
     
  21. Even where a state has a functioning police force/criminal justice system in general, a person may still establish a lack of sufficient protection if the authorities know or ought to know of particular circumstances likely to expose them to persecution, and do not provide the additional protection that the circumstances reasonably require: see AW (sufficiency of protection) Pakistan [2011] UKUT 31 (IAC). The effectiveness of the system provided is to be judged normally by its systemic ability to deter and/or to prevent the form of persecution of which there is a risk, not just punishment of it after the event: see AW (Pakistan) above at [23], citing one of the propositions put forward by Auld LJ in Bagdanavicius [2005] EWCA Civ 1605 and left undisturbed by the House of Lords in Bagdanavicius [2005] UKHL 38. So the question is not just whether the state will prosecute/punish traffickers but also whether it will protect victims against re-trafficking.
     
  22. As regards the ability/willingness of the Vietnamese authorities to protect trafficking victims, one major concern raised by the report is that there is a gap between the Vietnamese legal definition of trafficking and UK/international standards. Article 150 of the Penal Code criminalises labour trafficking and sex trafficking of adults, while Article 151 criminalises labour trafficking and sex trafficking of children under 16 (see section 2.1 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report). But it is explained by multiple sources (see section 2.3.2 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report) that, for Article 150 to be engaged, the victim must have been forced, threatened or lured. A victim who agreed to go with the trafficker is therefore not covered by Article 150, even if they were exploited after arriving in the UK. Article 151 does not protect children who are aged between 16 and 18. So many adults and 16/17-year-old children whom the UK would regard as victims of trafficking, and who would be victims of trafficking under the Palermo Protocol/ECAT [Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings] definition, will not be regarded as such under Vietnamese law and their traffickers will not be prosecuted.
     
  23. Although the Vietnamese state does provide some services for victims of trafficking, there are major barriers to accessing these. In order to access services, a trafficking victim must be officially recognised by either a border authority or law enforcement official, and this recognition can be difficult to obtain, even for children (see section 2.4 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report). Recognition as a trafficking victim in the UK will not automatically lead to such recognition in Vietnam. Coram International stated:

    “Numerous service providers interviewed for the study, including those representing both NGOs and government, explained that necessary certificates can be difficult to obtain, particularly for victims whose return isn’t supported or facilitated by government authorities.”
     
  24. Trafficking researcher Hong Thi Tran, interviewed for the Asylos/ARC Foundation report, stated:

    “However, some victims might not be able to-- because the investigation might not have enough evidence to prove that that's the case of trafficking so that the victim might not be able to receive the services [...]

    There's one government agency involved directly in the identification process but sometimes it also involves the Ministry of Social Affairs, called MOLISA in Vietnam and it also involves the border force and sometimes the Women's Union if that is the case. It involves different agencies throughout the prosecution process until that case, is officially recognised as human trafficking. But there's only one department, the Department of Criminal Investigations that specialises in the trafficking investigation process and a transfer on the documents to the judicial department like the Department of Justice. It's the whole process but I would say there’s a lot of gaps in identification so sometimes the victim can't prove themselves. If they come back from China after many years they don't remember who trafficked them, where that trafficker comes from any more, then as a result would not be able to identify that it is a case of victim of trafficking [...]

    It's a very lengthy process to identify victims by the government or from their wish that they don't want to be recognised because of the stigma that they might face.  I think these are the two main reasons victims of trafficking don’t want to be identified as such. And I think that's really-- it's quite difficult to get the different channels that really support the victims and encourage victims to report about cases. But in terms of mechanisms in place for the government to support the victims adequately and ensure protection, for example, protection of confidentiality is the problem. What media has been projecting on human trafficking seems to even victimise the victims and cause them more vulnerability[…]”

     
  25. An INGO based in Vietnam and interviewed for the Asylos/ARC Foundation report stated:

    “[…] Everything will be easy if they are certified as a victim of trafficking. But the difficulty is that it is difficult to get that certificate. It’s not easy, they have to go through a long process to prove that they are trafficking victims. It is very difficult. If you have that certificate then it will be easy to get other documents like ho kau. People always focus on ho kau. This residential certificate is very important but it’s not the most important. The most important thing is that they have to have an identity card.

    [...] They will face many problems if they are not recognised as a victim of trafficking. Many risks, first of all having no legal papers. For example no passport or identity card. So if they have lost their identity card or passport, they have to stay in their old village for around a year and then after a year they can claim for another personal paper. If they do not have a personal paper they will face some limitations in travelling and access to job opportunities. They also face some difficulties in accessing education, etc, so many risks.

    [...] For example there was one person who came back and they had no home and no money they wanted to go back. I want to share one fact that i heard about the victim came back to their hometown and he became a trafficker - tried to push someone else to come with them and he became the trafficker […]”

     
  26. Another source confirms that returning victims are not granted an identity card, so they are not allowed to move freely and cannot access housing/social support. They need the victim of trafficking certificate in order to get support (see section 4.1.4 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report).  Access to rehabilitation/reintegration services for victims also requires the victim of trafficking certificate (see sections 5.1 and 5.1.2 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report).
     
  27. Most victims do not get recognised (see section 5.1.2 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report). According to one source, only 1 in 10 victims of trafficking in a household survey said they had received any support. Services were focused on female victims of sex/marriage trafficking who were trafficked across borders, while male victims received much less attention (see section 5.1.3 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report). One source said that none of the male victims he had heard of received any help from the state (see section 5.3.1.1 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report) while another said that it is not acknowledged that males can be victims or be sexually abused/exploited (see section 5.3.1.2 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report). Access to the victim identification procedure is uneven, with more services in urban areas/big cities, and even in urban areas/big cities police and service providers may stigmatise victims (see sections 3.1.1 and 3.1.2 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report).
     
  28. It is clear therefore that some trafficking victims will be unable to obtain a victim of trafficking certificate, even if they have already been recognised as victims by the UK’s NRM. Without that certificate, their ability to obtain protection and reintegrate into society will be very limited.
     
  29. Even where a trafficking victim does obtain the certificate, services are limited. Only those recognised/identified as victims of trafficking will gain access to the government-run Social Protection Centres (see section 4.1 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report). It appears that there are no shelters specifically for victims of trafficking (except for women) and that they stay in the same shelters as other vulnerable/abused people (see sections 4.1 and 4.1.1 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report). Staff are not necessarily trained in how to assist the specific needs of victims of trafficking (see section 4.1.3 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report). The Home Office’s own fact-finding mission report indicates that victims can stay for a maximum of 60 days in the shelter (see section 4.1.5 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report). The centres provide shared accommodation and the environment may re-traumatise some victims (see section 4.1.7 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report).
     
  30. Although there are also some non-state shelters, which do not necessarily require a victim of trafficking certificate, there appear to be relatively small numbers of these, their funding situation is unpredictable and some have closed due to lack of funding (see sections 4.2.1-4.2.2, 4.2.5 and 5.2.1 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report). It is also unclear whether non-state shelters provide adequate security arrangements (see section 4.4.2.1 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report).
     
  31. Many victims of trafficking are reluctant to go to state or non-state shelters because of shame/stigma, a desire to return to their families and/or a fear of revenge (see sections 4.1.8, 4.2.6 and 5.2.1 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report). Another factor is that some victims of trafficking belong to minority ethnic/linguistic groups whereas shelter staff speak Vietnamese (see section 5.2.1 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report).
     
  32. It can be concluded, therefore, that many victims of trafficking will not receive sufficiency of protection from the state against re-trafficking. The majority of victims will not be certified by the state as victims of trafficking and will not, therefore, be able to access state-run shelters or rehabilitation/reintegration assistance. Lacking identity documents, they will be in a position of economic/social vulnerability and will be vulnerable to re-trafficking.

    Internal relocation
     
  33. It is clear from the evidence set out above that internal relocation will not cure the economic/social vulnerabilities that make a victim of trafficking vulnerable to re-trafficking, whether from the same traffickers or different traffickers. Without identity documents, access to employment or access to services/support, they remain vulnerable (see paragraph 7.1 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report). It is also clear that some traffickers have the ability and willingness to track down their victims (see sections 7.1.3-7.14 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report), particularly where unpaid debts are owed to the traffickers. 
     
  34. Indeed, internal relocation may make a victim more rather than less economically/socially vulnerable, having regard to the household registration system (ho khau) which limits a person’s ability to receive services/support in a place other than their place of registration (see section 6.2.1 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report). This is particularly a barrier for children accessing education in a new area (see section 6.2.2 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report). The ho khau will apparently be abolished in 2020 but no recent information confirming this was found by the authors of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report.

    The Home Office CPIN
     
  35. The Home Office Country Policy and Information Note (CPIN) published in April 2020 addresses some (but not all) of the evidence considered within the Asylos/ARC Foundation report. Within the Policy Summary, it acknowledges at paragraph 2.5.5 that “the governments [sic] definition of trafficking does not fully correspond with the internationally accepted definition”. It also acknowledges at paragraph 2.5.8 that “Access to government run services and shelters are unlikely to be available for those returning from the UK as they would not be in receipt of a victim’s certificate.”
     
  36. However, concerningly, the CPIN goes on to assert at paragraph 2.5.9 that “[w]here a person fears they are at risk from being re-trafficked they are likely to be able to access protection from the state.” This assertion is surprising and is not explained. As set out above, the state is unlikely to offer any protection/assistance to trafficking victims who are not certified as trafficking victims; the certificates are difficult to obtain; the majority of victims receive no support/assistance; and some victims will not be legally recognised as victims because of the gap between Vietnamese law and international standards. Victims are likely to be vulnerable to re-trafficking because of their social/economic vulnerability on return and the lack of services/support for them. Against this backdrop, it is difficult to see how the state could be said to offer a general sufficiency of protection. The fact that the state prosecutes and punishes some traffickers does not ipso facto mean that sufficient protection exists; the question is one of protection, not prosecution/punishment after the event (see AW (Pakistan) and Bagdanavicius, above).
     
  37. The Country Information section of the CPIN relies at paragraph 6.3.3 on a quote from an NGO and representatives from UN-ACT in a Home Office fact-finding mission report, stating that “[a]n NGO and representatives from UN-ACT told the UK Home Office FFM that where the police are aware of cases involving victims of trafficking, they are able to afford victims effective protection.” It is not clear that this is an accurate reflection of what UN-ACT said. The full quote is found at page 82 of the fact-finding mission report:

    “Yes, we have police here and a system. There is a hot line for people reporting on human trafficking cases. The hotline is at police and national level. The big problems are that the victims do not refer to those hotlines or to police for help, thus do not receive support as victims. Plus, when they come back to Vietnam they do not want people to know they are victims of human trafficking. They need to earn money in Vietnam and do not want people to know their stories. For example, those returning from Thailand and middle East are used for exploitation and never report to the police. Only in the cases where the police know about them can they protect them. The police and border guards cannot protect those who they do not know about. I think even if they do, it is not what you are thinking of. The Criminal Justice system is not a very effective witness protection system. In human trafficking cases the victims are the witnesses. Sometimes they do not cooperate as they do not believe that they are protected by the justice system or the police. It is difficult for courts and judges to bring a case to court as they cannot get cooperation from the victim.”
     
  38. The sentence “Only in the cases where the police know about them can they protect them” cannot sensibly be interpreted as evidence that, where the police are aware of a victim, they are consistently able to offer effective protection – especially in the context of a passage which also states “The Criminal Justice system is not a very effective witness protection system”. No details are given as to what protection the police might actually offer. As set out above, this has to be set against a large volume of evidence that many victims are not recognised as trafficking victims or supported/assisted by the authorities at all. 
     
  39. Indeed the CPIN itself acknowledges in the very next paragraph, 6.3.4, that “the Vietnamese government consider many of those Vietnamese nationals that go to the UK and remain there illegally as being economic migrants”, and at paragraph 6.3.5 that “the definition of trafficking victims in articles 150 and 151 ‘will never apply to them [victims of trafficking from the UK] as they agreed to go with the trafficker’… if they are over 16 but under 18, they must ‘prove that there have been fraud or cheating elements involved’ for being considered a victim of trafficking.” This accords with the evidence already set out that many victims are not recognised/identified as victims by the Vietnamese authorities. At paragraph 6.4.4 it is also acknowledged that no witness protection programme exists; so even if a person gives evidence against their traffickers it cannot be assumed that the police will protect them.
     
  40. There is, therefore, no compelling evidence to support the CPIN’s assertion that the authorities provide effective protection. The fact that the authorities prosecute some traffickers does not mean they generally accord meaningful protection and assistance to victims. And many cases of trafficking are not recognised as trafficking under Vietnamese law.
     
  41. At paragraph 2.6.4 the CPIN asserts that women “may be more particularly vulnerable to re-trafficking”. While female victims of trafficking certainly face particular vulnerabilities, the evidence does not support the assertion that male victims are at less risk overall. On the contrary, as set out above, there is evidence that male victims are particularly under-recognised, that few if any male victims are able to access services/support, and that it is often not acknowledged that men can be victims or can be sexually abused/exploited (see sections 5.3.1.1-5.3.1.2 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report). There is specific evidence of male victims being re-trafficked due to unpaid debts (see sections 7.1.3.1-7.1.4 and 7.2 of the Asylos/ARC Foundation report).
     
  42. The CPIN makes extensive reference to the reported case of Nguyen (Anti-Trafficking Convention: respondent’s duties) [2015] UKUT 170 (IAC). That case is not a Country Guidance case, nor does it deal with country conditions in the detail/depth that a Country Guidance case would do. It is not reported for what it says about country conditions, but rather for what it says about the public law duties of the Secretary of State towards trafficking victims. The body of the determination deals with risk on return very briefly (paragraphs 49-52) and cites limited evidence – certainly far less evidence than the comprehensive, detailed compilation of sources now found in the Asylos/ARC Foundation report. The principal source relied upon in Nguyen appears to be the United States Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report for 2010. That source is now very out of date – the 2019 Department of State Report states that Vietnam “identified significantly fewer victims than in previous years” and “decreased law enforcement efforts,” and downgrades Vietnam to the Tier 2 Watch list. It is therefore unclear why the CPIN asserts at paragraph 2.5.2 that the position “remains largely the same” as in the 2010 Report.
     
  43. It should be noted that non-Country Guidance reported cases do not have the same status as Country Guidance. Although the summaries of the evidence in such cases can be relied upon, the assessment of the evidence is not binding unless it accords with pre-existing Country Guidance: see SI (reported cases as evidence) Ethiopia [2007] UKAIT 00012. The obligation to follow findings of fact made in reported cases is limited to decisions involving “the same factual matrix” and, even then, does not apply where there is “good reason to revisit the earlier decision”: TR (CCOL cases) Pakistan [2011] UKUT 33 (IAC) at [22]. Here, the factual matrix is now significantly different, given the significantly greater volume and depth of evidence now available about the risks of re-trafficking on return and the experiences of victims. Thus a tribunal would clearly err if it were simply to follow Nguyen without having regard to the evidence post-dating it.
     
  44. A positive feature of the CPIN is that it acknowledges that these claims are unlikely to be certifiable as clearly unfounded (paragraph 2.7.1). That conclusion is plainly correct.

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