Modern Day Slavery


The first article that I’m going to be reflecting on is a piece from the Guardian entitled: “‘Path to illegal behaviour’: UK accused of failing to press home anti-slavery law.” This article highlights how following the implementation of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 into UK law, any business that is registered within and provides goods and services for the UK, with a turnover of more than £36m must identify risks of human trafficking and slavery within their supply chain. This, along with potential solutions to these risks must be shown within their annual report.

The article goes on to note that according to the Tisc report, less than half of companies within the UK required to comply have actually done so. This is extremely worrying as not complying with this law suggests that the company may have something to hide. It amazes me that multinational companies such as Boots and Ferrero (just a couple of companies named) can think that they can get away with non compliance. However, this may be a sad reflection upon the priorities of our current government.

As I have recently learnt, only the state can be responsible for a human rights violation, and that’s why this article is urging the government to take action against these businesses that are breaking the law. The article ends with Diane Abbot, Labour’s shadow home secretary criticising the Tory government for declaring anti-slavery policies but not actually acting on them. Although I understand that she would of course be critical of Labour’s opposition, I have to agree that this lack of action is not right and as far as I understand, violates human rights law in this country.

I would be very interested to learn how human rights laws would apply for a company that sells their product in a country with less or no human rights laws, if the actual human rights violation happened in the UK. For example; a shoe company that sells their shoes in China. However, the shoes are made in a factory in the UK with many child workers. Would the Chinese government be responsible for these violations or would it be the UK government’s issue? Perhaps both? I look forward to exploring these ideas in the upcoming weeks.


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