UK signs up to combat modern slavery

EPA/STEVE PARSONS

British police search the Greenacre caravan site in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, England on 11 September 2011 where four residents of the site were arrested on suspicion of slavery offences.

UK signs up to combat modern slavery


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The United Kingdom ratified the Forced Labour Protocol. So far, only two other countries – Niger and Norway – have ratified the International Labour Organization (ILO) protocol to end modern slavery.

“This is a significant and welcome development in the fight against forced labour,” said Guy Ryder, Director-General of the ILO. “The United Kingdom’s ratification is a clear sign that global momentum is building in the fight against these abhorrent practices that demean and enslave millions around the world.”

The UK was among the first countries to ratify the 1930 Forced Labour Convention and last year passed the “UK Modern Slavery Act”, which strengthens the legal framework for combating all forms of forced labour.

In a statement issued by the UK’s Home Office, UK Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation Karen Bradley said: “Sadly, forced labour can take place in any industry, but the UK Government will not stand by while criminals profit from this trade in human misery.”

“That’s why we have committed to working with the International Labour Organization and other countries to make sure we are providing the strongest possible protection for victims and bringing perpetrators to justice.”

“Through our landmark Modern Slavery Act we are already ensuring that those who are guilty of forced labour offences can face life behind bars, and our Immigration Bill, will ensure that the Gangmasters Licensing Authority has new powers to investigate those workers being exploited.”

The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), the public body set up by the UK Government to fight forced labour

According to ILO research, forced labour generates around $150bn a year in illicit profits – most of it in developed economies and the European Union.  It affects domestic workers and many people in agriculture, fishing and construction. Women and girls, in particular, are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation.

In related news, the Wall Street Journal, starting this year, companies operating in the UK with global revenues over 36 million pounds ($51.1m) will need to release an annual statement addressing what actions they took to address slavery and human trafficking.

But one survey conducted by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply found few companies were confident they would be able to comply. Of the supply chain managers polled, 27% said they didn’t know how to meet the rule’s requirements, and one in five were unaware of the law. Over half said they wouldn’t know what to do if they learned of a supplier using slave labour.

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