Effective legislation is crucial to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking. These are some of the primary legislation that the UK has adopted to tackle modern slavery:
Legislation is Failing – This Must Change:
Many governments, including the UK Government, claim to champion the cause of fighting modern slavery, including the UK, just as they gut human rights and social protections, defund labour inspections, roll back hard-won laws and legal victories made by unions, champion harder borders and anti-immigration laws and give even greater power to businesses who perpetrate forced labour.
Whilst at the time, the Modern Slavery Act (2015) was a landmark piece of legislation as the UK led the global fight against modern slavery, it is ineffective, toothless and there is a severe lack of enforcement. Companies that fail to comply or who are only doing the ‘bare minimum’ to tackle modern slavery in their supply chains are not penalised. Companies can even report a modern slavery statement without taking any action!
Legislation in the UK does not provide adequate support or protection for survivors of modern slavery. Under current legislation, survivors (even children who have been criminally exploited) are treated as criminals and prosecuted as such. In practice, there is minimal substantial care for identified survivors; many are being detained, deported, or even sent to prison. This benefits traffickers because if authorities mistreat survivors, people in exploitation will be reluctant to seek support.
The proposed ‘overhaul’ of the immigration system by the UK Home Office uses the anti-human trafficking rhetoric to justify anti-immigration and hard border sentiments. This is incredibly dangerous.
– Kate Roberts (Anti-Slavery International).
Legislation must address the root causes enabling exploitation in the first time including poverty, economic insecurity, gender inequality, lack of access to education, mental health challenges etc.
Governments need to introduce mandatory human rights due diligence laws (Germany recently passed a relatively substantial supply chain due diligence law). Existing legislation must be amended – governments must recognise the systemic nature of exploitation, consult organisations, experts and survivors and stop using the anti-modern slavery rhetoric to justify damaging and inhumane policies.