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A slave in Scotland (theguardian.com)
125 points by orf on May 28, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments

He was jailed, but how come the missing wages, overtime, and compensation weren't awarded at the same time? This should all have been dealt in a single sentencing. It would have been both fair for the victims and efficient for the justice system.

There was a similar case for a pizzeria employee in Finland. An Indian worker was tricked into country and forced to work extra long days with no holidays, for 16 months. The place owners got jail time and prohibition to run a business. The employee got 90k€ in missing wages plus 12k€ in compensation for the suffering.

That was my persistent thought as I was reading the article. How is it even remotely possible that the legal system did not see the trafficked men as victims here? It was prosecuted as if Arefin's sole crime was against the state, and the men he effectively enslaved were merely witnesses. (Which is also more or less how it was treated by the first few authorities it was reported to.)

As a Scot I'm deeply embarrassed about how these men were treated. Unfortunately, although Scotland has a devolved parliament, immigration and border control isn't a devolved power. I'd like to think that if these powers were devolved, or in an independent Scotland, the Scottish equivalent of the UK Borders Agency/Home Office would have treated these folks far more sympathetically.

Whilst nowhere near as horrific as Azad and his colleagues experience, there's currently a high profile story in the press about an Australian couple and their son who've lived here since 2011. The UK government changed the visa rules and now want to kick them out:


One day I hope we can gain these powers and treat law abiding guests in our country with much better respect.

I like the idea that "civilization is the process of setting man free from men". Unfortunately immigration law based on sponsorship is rather obviously pulling in the other direction...

We have trouble with this in the US.

One big problem is employers holding passports. That's illegal in the US, but widespread. This would be easy to fix. Since the US takes biometrics on legal immigrants entering the country, anyone legally in the US should be able to go to any place with a TSA/ICE presence (any airport), get a fingerprint/retina/photo scan, and get an immediate temporary ID.

I would absolutely love to see this happen. I wish there was a govt user voice where people would vote for their ideas and those with the most votes in a department would have to be looked at.

We seem to have a democracy but the only decision we can make is which man/woman leads the country.

Horrible. One aspect of this story is that these men are still slaves, though their masters are now moneylenders and the whole thing seems kind of legal... Modern day slavery.


I think you're out of order - I don't know if it was the underhanded snipe at immigrants or the "backwards culture" remark that rankled me more, but there's no place for that sort of thinking in Modern Scotland. There are nasty people in all walks of life and in all cultures in our nation, this particular crime was committed by an immigrant. Focussing on that aspect does three things:

1. takes focus away from the suffering of the people who were preyed upon in this case

2. attempts to paint "immigrants" with a single brush

3. diminishes the role white Scots play in the relatively high level of violent (often alcohol or sectarian driven) or other crimes we have

The "bring immigrants in and make them slaves in my business" thing pretty much requires that the slave-owner be from a culture which tolerates taking abusive advantage of workers. In the US, those stories have usually been about rich Saudis bringing in housekeepers, and very rarely have been about people from the subcontinent bringing in workers to their business.

200 years ago the US had a backwards culture which considered slavery reasonable. There were many parts of US culture at the time which were admirable, but nevertheless it was backwards. Backwards cultures can be fixed by changing a very small number of critical items.

It's not about Scotland, it's not about hating other cultures, it's about pockets of residual culture in the world that need fixing.

>200 years ago the US had a backwards culture which considered slavery reasonable.

It really isn't 200 years ago that the US considered treating "others" so badly -- and by your own criteria, there are still many pockets of such backwardness present in the US today. For example, a vast proportion of California's agriculture is dependent on undocumented farm labor with no legal rights.

As a US citizen I would not be offended by calling any of that stuff backward. Because it is backward. There are a lot of people in my country who I don't know how they sleep at night.

> The "bring immigrants in and make them slaves in my business" thing pretty much requires that the slave-owner be from a culture which tolerates taking abusive advantage of workers.

A culture that "tolerates taking abusive advantage of workers"?

You mean, er, any country under capitalism?

That would be the glib response I was afraid that line would provoke, but then I thought no one would go there. Slavery as told in the linked story is very different from the more limited abuses of capitalism in a modern country. Be better than that.

What, so you think that slavery is only possible from non-white people, or something?

Are you unaware of the history of the West, and of Western slavery in more recent times?

No, it is perfectly within anyone's right to question or be sceptical of immigrants who enter. If they are to be allowed into the democracy, they absolutely should be questioned, it is naive otherwise, that is how agreements work and with immigrants we are agreeing to let them in. If there is a difference in cultures, it should be looked at, not ignored. We can't set two standards of cultures, there should be one standard we use and all should be asked to adhere to whether immigrant or not. That some Scots fail at it does not mean there should be no standard. If it turns out that immigrants are doing anything disagreeable or hostile, why isn't that an issue that should be raised? This is wholly apart from having any compassion for suffering.

backward culture?

> When she realised what was going on, Smith tried to contact the police, local media, politicians and the procurator fiscal. She says nobody did anything to help.... It wasn’t the first time Arefin had been linked to immigration abuses. In 2007 he was fined £2,000 by Croydon crown court for illegally obtaining work permits for Indian and Bangladeshi restaurant employees. Even so, in 2009, he and his wife were granted a licence to run the Stewart hotel – against objections from the chief inspector of local police.

yeah that's pretty backward from UK authorities!

Failing to fully investigate allegations of human slavery while part of a large and underfunded bureaucracy !== being a human slaver, in terms of "level of fundamentally problematic cultural values."

We're the victims also bringing their backwards culture here?

Is slavery somehiw limited to backwards culture? No. Slavery thrives in the legal gray areas and absent culture , when people leave their home country and community.

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