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  • Writer's pictureDurham Pro Bono Blog

DUPS A-Team: Greater Transparency to Combat Modern Slavery

How often do you read the labels on your clothes to check where they were made? Did you ever research the exact factory where your laptop was manufactured?

According to the Global Slavery Index, 40.3 million people in the world are living in modern slavery. 71% of those are females and forced labour accounts for 24.9 million victims.

Electronic gadgets, such as laptops and mobile phones, pose the highest risk of being produced by victims of modern slavery. In second place are garments. In the UK, imported garments which are at risk of including forms of modern slavery are worth above £7 million.

Fortunately, many consumers are becoming more aware of the exploitation of workers, especially in developing countries. By learning more about a company’s supply chain, we can take action against companies who are involved in forced or exploitative labour. This includes any stage of manufacturing, packaging, transport, advertising, and sale of products.

“Greater transparency means greater scrutiny and accountability. It means exploitation has fewer places to hide,” said Peter McAllister, head of the Ethical Trading Initiative.

In the past, only a few retailers published information about their supply chain. On the bright side, section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 has introduced a requirement for commercial organisations to publish an annual transparency statement regarding the organisation’s strategies of combating slavery and human trafficking in its supply chain and any part of its business.

Nevertheless, this requirement only applies to large businesses that have an annual turnover of £36 million or more. Fast-forward to October 2018, the Home Office stated that since the 2015 Act came into force, only 60% of organisations that come under the scope of section 54 have published a transparency statement. Moreover, many of the statements that were published lack quality and detail.

In a move to strengthen compliance with the 2015 Act, the Government intends to publish a list of all the organisations that fail to publish their latest transparency statement by 31 March 2019. Hopefully, this will be an effective incentive for organisations to become more transparent in order to protect their reputation.

In addition, the Government has commissioned Frank Field MP, Maria Miller MP, and Baroness Butler-Sloss to conduct an independent review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The review will be published by the end of March 2019, contemporaneously with the list of non-compliant organisations, and will consider introducing stricter measures to drive compliance with the Act. This could include imposing legal sanctions on non-compliant organisations.

As for us, the consumers, a powerful way to counteract modern slavery is to boycott businesses that lack transparency and of course, businesses who are proven to be involved in human trafficking.

M. M. Albanyan


17 January 2019

Disclaimer: The views expressed are that of the individual author. All rights are reserved to the original authors of the materials consulted.

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