As an estimated 40 million people worldwide are still trapped in modern slavery, October 18th marked another Anti-Slavery Day in the UK. Over the whole of 2020, 10,613 potential modern slavery victims were referred into the UK’s National Referral Mechanism, but the true number of victims is estimated to be much higher.
HTMSE continues to support modern slavery victims and professionals assisting them by connecting victims with experts in modern slavery across all areas of practice.
We encourage anyone, whether a professional, NGO, charity, business, lawyer, medical practitioner, or other expert or specialist organisation not listed in the HTMSE directory to sign up to create a profile by following this link: https://humantraffickingexperts.com/main/signup.
BAE Systems has recently published ‘The 2021 Global State of Anti-Money Laundering Report: Is compliance creating an industry own goal?’. The report identifies that human trafficking is one of the top 5 biggest concerns for financial institutions such as banks and insurers.
The report, quoting the UNODC, addresses the worsening of the ‘trend’ human trafficking caused by the pandemic, with lockdowns and curfews driving crime underground and limiting the abilities of NGOs and governments to help victims.
Findings from the report highlights that 77% of compliance teams are not confident in stopping crimes linked to human trafficking, and 81% said the same about crimes linked to sexual exploitation.
You can find the full report on the BAE Systems website here.
Philippa Southwell, HTMSE’s founder, has appeared on the BBC Radio 4 documentary ‘A Long Way from Vietnam’ alongside the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, and others, where she discussed the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.
The programme is presented by BBC journalist Nga Pham and explores why irregular Vietnamese migration is the second highest into the UK and delves into the experiences of migrants through discussions with the Vietnamese community, lawyers, police officers and the Minister for Immigration.
Approximately 70% of Philippa’s client base is currently Vietnamese. In the programme, Philippa discussed her own experience with the NRM and the delays faced by her clients in receiving their determinations – having to sometimes wait for months and even years for a confirmation of their trafficking status.
‘A Long Way from Vietnam’ was broadcast on 24th August 2021 and will be repeated on the 29th August. It can also be accessed on the BBC Sounds website.
Philippa Southwell, HTMSE’s founder, appeared on GB News for a live interview during which she discussed modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK’s textiles and garment industry. She focused on the exploitation in fashion as well as the legislation covering business modern slavery compliance.
Under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, Section 54, companies with a total annual turnover of over 36 million, are required to publish a modern slavery statement setting out the steps, if any, they have undertaken in the past year to prevent the risks modern slavery and human trafficking in their business and supply chains. The only formal requirements for the modern slavery compliance statement are that it is signed by a senior member of the organisation, such as a director, and that it is published in a prominent place on the organisation’s website.
During her interview, Philippa discussed the lack of implementation and enforcement of our legislation against non-compliant companies.
‘Forced Labour in Supply Chains’ event, organised by women’s rights organisation Romildamor, will be held on 12th August 2021. Philippa Southwell, HTMSE’s founder, will be attending and speaking on modern slavey compliance and ethical supply chains during the panel discussion along with Katharine Bryan, who is a Modern Slavery Research and Policy Manager at the Walk Free Foundation.
The discussion will address the issues of modern slavery and human trafficking in supply chains, their existence in the fashion industries, as well as business human rights and measures to rectify human rights violations in supply chains.
To sign up and for further information about the event, please see here.
Dame Sara Thornton, UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner has published the 2020-2021 Annual Report. The report sets out the work of the Commissioner using the strategic plan presented before parliament in October 2019. However, the report also reflects on the challenges, including the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and UK exit from the EU.
The report highlights that progress has been made, as well as the drawbacks, such as successful prosecution of perpetrators remaining infrequent. The Commissioner emphasises the need for research which could contribute more to the practical understanding of what works in terms of victims support and prosecution of offenders.
Particularly, the report underscores the need for protection of victims who commit criminal offences as a direct consequence of their trafficking. According to the report, child exploitation in county lines remains prevalent, though the possibility of criminal exploitation is not being considered at the start of an investigation risking victims being wrongly prosecuted. However, non-prosecution alone does not protect children or vulnerable adults; effective safeguarding is needed instead, the report indicates.
For the full findings of the report, please see here.
HTMSE Director, Philippa Southwell, provided evidence in the case of A & B v CICA, for which the Supreme Court has now handed down the judgment. Philippa’s evidence was based on her legal expertise in modern slavery, human trafficking and forced criminality.
The Court was asked to decide whether A and B were discriminated against contrary to Article 14 and 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights, by being barred from compensation under the 2012 iteration of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) based on having unspent convictions.
The Court rules that an automatic bar on compensation was lawful, where there was no nexus between the unspent convictions and trafficking. This still potentially allows for arguments for compensation on the grounds of nexus between trafficking the crime committed, if the victim has been unable to benefit from non-punishment provisions.
You can find the full judgment on the Supreme Court website here.
European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has refused UK Government’s request that the case of V.C.L. and A.N. v. United Kingdom (nos. 77587/12 and 74603/12) be referred to the Grand Chamber. The judgment, handed down on 16th February 2021, is now final.
This was landmark case in which the Chamber of the ECtHR unanimously found breaches of Articles 4 (prohibition of forced labour) and 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights
Philippa Southwell, HTMSE director, represented VCL in both domestic proceedings and in his application to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Also instructed on behalf of VCL were Henry Blaxland QC, Emma Fitzsimons and Stephen Clark of Garden Court Chambers alongside Michelle Brewer, a former tenant who left Chambers to become a First-Tier Tribunal judge in the Immigration and Asylum Chamber.
For the confirmation of the rejection for referral to the Grand Chamber please see here.
For the full judgment please see here.
As the G7 meeting gets underway, the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Dame Sara Thornton and the CEO of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, Alex Their, appeal to world leaders to prioritise a coordinated approach on tackling the global issue of forced labour in supply chains.
Writing in an article in the Red Box section of The Times, they recommend specific measures and commitments to solve modern day slavery, emphasising that it requires and investment of capital and political will. They appeal to the G7 leaders to condemn forced labour in goods and services in their supply chains and commit to enforcing this.
It is proposed that G7 agree on specific and measurable commitments, such as eradication of forced labour in the G7 supply chains by 2025, and worldwide by 2030. Then, they should agree on steps to harmonise their laws and standards, followed by increase in investment in the countries trying to do the right thing. Lastly, the article calls for a ban to all state-controlled forced labour.
To read the full article by the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and CEO of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, please see here.
12th June was the official World Day Against Child Labour. Children around the world are routinely engaged in paid and unpaid forms of work that are not harmful to them. However, they are classified as child labourers when they are either too young to work, or are involved in hazardous activities that may compromise their physical, mental, social or educational development.
The World Day Against Child Labour was first launched in 2002 by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in order to bring awareness to the global issue of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. This year’s World Day was the first since the universal ratification of the ILO’s Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour. It 2021 is also the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.
As part of the observances, ILO and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have released global estimated and trends on child labour.
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, the report reflects on how it threatens to reverse years of progress in tackling the problem of child labour and assesses how the pace of progress towards ending child labour is likely to be affected by the continuing pandemic and the economic crisis that has accompanied it.
For more on the World Day Against Child Labour, please see here, whilst you can find the ILO and UNICEF report here.