Anthony Harrison, a former Newham council janitor has been sentenced to 20 years for his role in ‘importing’ and attempting to ‘export’ two Nigerian teenage girls, now aged 14 and 16. The girls are believed to have originated from the Edo region of Nigeria – and DNA tests indicate a paternal link – and Harrison’s conviction is a double unpleasant first.
Although instances of human trafficking into this country and subsequent imprisonment and mistreatment of the poor wretches in question (as young as five) are dispiritingly common, this may be first conviction resulting from attempts to traffic individuals out-of the country since 1772 when my fellow tribesman, Charles Stewart was found to have illegally re-captured James Somersett. (Disclaimer, Harrison’s convicted merely has been described as the first conviction for trafficking from this country. The Somersett Case came from my memory, and there may have been subsequent similar cases in the following decades.)
The truly creepy element of this case is that power Harrison and his undoubted fellow conspirators wielded over these girls had kept them in the grip of superstitious terror since their rescues in 2009, agreeing to testify only now. This case also is believed to be the first successful case in Britain, and possibly the EU to have involved coercion and kidnapping through the application of juju rituals (although the 2005 murder of Maricica Irina Cornici in a Romanian convent is not any less horrific for the Christian-basis to her method of her murder).
After having been abused in Edo and subjected to juju rituals to… well… brainwash in the original sense of the word really is the only way I can describe their treatment, these illiterate and non-English speaking girls were passed to Harrison’s control from which the elder was flown to Spain and the younger to Greece; which the Police and courts accepted was to supply them to prostitution rings.
Despite several reports having referred to juju interchangeably with voodooism, the two are unrelated. Millions in Nigerian and other West African states carry talismans and other trinkets related to juju without endorsing the horrendous treatment Harrison’s victims were exposed to, but as with Vivian Peters being convinced of her loyalty to her traffickers by a juju ritual in the accompanying photograph, juju frequently is used as a method of control and to convince victims they will die if they testify against their traffickers.
And, even with reports of tens of thousands of Nigerian sex-workers in European countries – many now to be assumed to be under the sway of jujuism – there remains the thought of prostitute-camps in West African states.
Harrison arrived in Britain in the early 2000s claiming asylum from Liberia. Although subsequent checks indicated he was from Nigeria which was not experiencing similar levels of unrest, he was permitted to stay in the Legacy programme intended to clear backlogs of applicants. The contrast between scum like him and his two identified victims – as well as the many more victims he and his fellow slavers would have been responsible for – who, with proper rehabilitation and psychiatric treatment, should be welcome additions to British society should not be overstated. I would hope that when he is released, he is deported.
On 21 September, it will be ten years since Baby Adam’s mutilated corpse was found in the River Thames. He was ‘imported’ to Britain not even as a slave, but as a piece of meat.