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As the EU stalls on passing the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, our CEO Jasmine O’Connor OBE shares a statement about what this law means for global progress to end modern slavery.

“Everyone, everywhere deserves to live and work in freedom, without having to face exploitation, abuse and forced labour. So why are there still well over 21 million people trapped in modern slavery in the private sector and by their governments?

Since 2017, we’ve urged the EU to make global progress towards ending modern slavery, with two pioneering laws to tackle forced labour of children and adults. These are vital laws that people in or at risk of modern slavery need to protect them from exploitation, and soon.

I’m devastated that today, this global progress towards ending modern slavery worldwide has not only been stalled, but actively attacked by a few powerful Member States and businesses as the European Council has failed to endorse the law. Make no mistake, losing the EU’s proposed Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive would hamper the progress needed to end modern slavery around the world.

It is not too late. History can be made this week, by passing a law to protect workers from exploitation and forced labour. But if it is not, the impact will be far-reaching, sending a shameful message to the world.

Today, a small minority of politicians and business leaders are failing the 17.3 million people trapped in forced labour in the private sector, and the 3.9 million people who are forced by their governments to work against their will.

Today, businesses and politicians are risking the biggest chance the world has seen in recent history to improve conditions for millions of workers around the world, to provide access to justice, and to prevent people from being harmed in slavery in the future.

Business lobbies have been working hard behind the scenes to pressure politicians into challenging this proposed law. The German Government has buckled to domestic political pressure and the French Government has given in to pressure from business lobbies. Italy, along with various smaller Member States, has followed in the wake of this uncertainty, allowing itself to be swayed. It is shameful to see France and Germany – two countries that already have their own due diligence laws – blocking this crucial opportunity to tackle forced labour globally. It is disappointing to see other Member States prioritise political interests over people and planet.

We still have the opportunity to fight for this. Member States must endorse the law and demonstrate their commitment to ending modern slavery once and for all.

We’ve been pushing to bring a full and final end to slavery for over 180 years, and we know the positive impact this law can have – and businesses know it too. We want to thank every business and politician that is pledging support for this law and pushing on. Your support demonstrates that people and planet must come before profit. Together, we are still pushing for every country to compel companies to put people before profit. We will not stop until everyone is free.”

In new investor guidance and a policy-briefing launched today by co-authors Anti-Slavery International, the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice at Sheffield Hallam University and the Investor Alliance for Human Rights, investors and governments are being advised to develop more effective and proactive strategies to address systemic forced labour risks in green technologies, due to supply chain reliance on the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Uyghur Region).

As the need to transition from fossil fuels to green energy becomes increasingly urgent given the escalating climate crisis, investments in the solar power and electric vehicles sectors are surging. However, these sectors are known to be heavily exposed to forced labour risks given the Uyghur Region’s dominance in green technology material supply and production. The new research includes guidance for investors to mitigate these risks, as well as a policy brief to the UK Government to address the concerns through legislative and regulatory action. This project is funded by the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre (Modern Slavery PEC), which in turn is funded and actively supported by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

For years, the Uyghur Region in northwest China, has served as the predominant hub for either the quarrying, processing, refining, manufacturing and/or export of materials and components for solar and EV supply chains. At issue is the Chinese Government’s systematic persecution of Uyghur and other Turkic and Muslim-majority peoples on the basis of their religion and ethnicity. This persecution utilises multiple systems of state-imposed forced labour, tainting any materials sourced or produced in the Region with salient human rights risks. In 2022, the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery found that this forced labour “may amount to enslavement as a crime against humanity.”

Through one-on-one interviews with investment professionals, researchers sought to understand how investors have responded to Uyghur forced labour risks in their portfolios. Through this research, the authors compiled ‘Investor Guidance’, designed to provide investment professionals with the tools to identify, exclude or engage businesses linked to human rights violations against the Uyghur people from their green energy portfolios. The Guidance also explores how investors can re-channel investments into companies that champion sustainability, innovation, and supply chain resilience, and outlines policy measures governments can take to facilitate those investments.

Chloe Cranston, Head of Thematic Advocacy Programmes at Anti-Slavery International said: “Investors and governments provide the key capital to enable our urgent transition away from fossil fuels. However, they must not simply accept the transition’s current reliance on systemic persecution of a population, as is the case with Uyghur forced labour. This guidance should serve as a tool to encourage investors and the UK government to provide the critical funding and investment needed to shift green technology supply chains from the Uyghur Region, and support a truly just, fair and equitable transition from fossil fuels.”

"We are devastated to see the ‘Illegal Migration’ Bill pass. Since it was announced, we have been calling on the Government to halt this cruel and unworkable Bill, which is dangerous for victims and hands new tools for exploitation to traffickers. We are outraged that successive Governments, over the last two years, have pushed through laws and policies that directly roll back support for victims of modern slavery, including through the Nationality and Borders Act and the unlawful Rwanda policy. Today we stand in solidarity with everyone who will be impacted by this Bill, and the current and future victims of trafficking who will now be barred from support. We will continue to challenge these policies. The passing of this Bill is a rallying cry to us all. We must fight for a system that can support victims and survivors, that is founded in compassion, and managed with competence.”

Jamie Fookes, UK and Europe Advocacy Manager at Anti-Slavery International

“The EU has the potential to develop world-leading laws on forced labour, that would protect millions of people around the world from harm. However, the two proposals currently fall short of this, failing to take workers’ needs into account. This week we have brought partners from all around the world, to the heart of the EU, to make sure that EU policymakers hear the perspectives of those most impacted by forced labour. We truly hope they will listen, and improve these crucial laws.”

Sian Lea, Business and Human Rights Manager at Anti-Slavery International

“At its last Universal Periodic Review, the UK Government was celebrated for its dedication and leadership in tackling modern slavery. 5 years later, the picture is so much bleaker. With the recent rollback of victim support coupled with the reclassification of modern slavery as an immigration issue, victims and survivors are being failed. The UK Government must listen to survivor voices, prioritise recovery support and treat modern slavery as the horrific crime that it is. This is an opportunity for the UK Government to listen to its peers at the UN Human Rights Council and show its commitment to once again be a world-leader in tackling modern slavery.”

Cara Priestley, International Advocacy Officer at Anti-Slavery International.

“The Qatar World Cup will forever be tainted with the devasting exploitation and forced labour of migrant workers, thousands of whom have lost their lives for three weeks of football. The dark side of the ‘so-called’ beautiful game has been exposed – an event only possible because of the exploitation of vulnerable people seeking to provide for their families and a disgusting example of sportswashing. We remain dismayed at the failure of governments and sporting bodies to urgently address the event's cost to human lives. It is critical that the Qatar government, FIFA, football associations and home governments make sure that migrant workers can access remediation – including reimbursement of unpaid wages and recruitment fees, and compensation for harm – both in Qatar and in their home countries. This includes creating an independent migrant resource centre and providing non-financial support, including mental health support, to help these migrant workers regain their freedom and dignity.”

Chloe Cranston, Head of Thematic Advocacy Programmes at Anti- Slavery International. 

"In towns, streets and communities all across the UK, people are trapped in modern slavery. This is not only a failure, but an affront to us all. At a time when the UK needs an urgent upgrade of existing legislation and policies on modern slavery that better protect people, instead, a dangerous narrative is being spread – and victims of slavery up and down the country are being failed."

See the full opinion piece from our CEO Jasmine O'Connor OBE at the Independent, here.

"We are deeply disappointed to see that the number of people in forced labour and forced marriage around the world has risen so significantly, with an increase in 10 million people since the last Global Estimates were released. While disappointed and saddened, we are not surprised. These Global Estimates demonstrate at the global level that the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in many more people around the world being subjected to forced labour and forced marriage, which has risen by a shocking 6.6 million. This has been further compounded by the effects of conflict and climate change. Devastatingly, children now account for 12% of people in forced labour, which is also a significant increase.

These Estimates are a wakeup call, highlighting more than ever the urgent need for stronger legislation around the world to prevent these abuses. Where legislation already exists, governments must prioritise implementation and enforcement so that nobody is subjected to slavery. These Estimates demonstrate that urgent action is needed. Governments, businesses and civil society must rapidly step-up action, ambition and momentum to tackle modern slavery, if we want to see a world where everyone experiences freedom."

Catherine Turner, Director of Advocacy and Programmes

"The documentary The Real Mo Farah this evening was humbling.

We honour Sir Mo’s experience as a survivor. His personal story, like all survivors, is unique, but all too common. These very public revelations will no doubt be extremely challenging for Sir Mo to re-live so publically.

We feel a collective pain, pride, sadness in being witness to Sir Mo’s deeply personal journey and we must work hard to ensure that all children whether from Kyiv, Karachi or Kettering are treated humanely, not exploited in domestic servitude or other forms of modern slavery.

Let’s resolve to ensure that no one is in fear of coming forward to UK authorities to report their exploitation, that they are believed and get the help they need. Sir Mo’s extraordinary life shows us that when a victim is believed, when they are supported, they have the chance to flourish. 

‘I was concerned with me being free . . . Just being free.’ Sir Mo Farah."

Ryna Sherazi, Director of Fundraising and Communications

"Thanks to the bravery and strength of Ms Wong, the Supreme Court has ruled that diplomatic immunity will no longer protect diplomats serving in the UK from civil cases of modern slavery being taken against them. This is a hugely important step towards ending the exploitation of domestic workers in the UK. We know that overseas domestic workers in the UK face a serious risk of exploitation and abuse, largely due to abuses of visa insecurity including in the diplomatic community. Removing the protection of diplomatic immunity means that workers trapped in these exploitative situations are closer to getting justice. 

However, this case highlights the overall lack of protection for domestic workers in the UK. In 2012 the right which enabled migrant domestic workers to change employers without restrictions was taken away. This right allowed those on the Overseas Domestic Worker visa to escape exploitative employers and challenge the systematic abuse they face. This needs to be returned immediately. We don't know the full extent of abuse and exploitation of domestic workers in the UK, but this ruling will shine more light on this serious issue and will hopefully lead the way to greater protection."

Jamie Fookes - Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group Coordinator at Anti-Slavery International

Anti-Slavery International, alongside other civil society across the UK, is calling for a Business, Human Rights and Environment Act to be introduced in the UK. Current laws aren’t strong enough to hold businesses and the public sector to account when they fail to prevent human rights abuses, including modern slavery, and environmental harms throughout their supply chains. Victims of corporate harm should also be able to access justice in UK courts.

Due diligence laws are gaining traction around the world, as demonstrated by the EU’s milestone proposal in February. The UK government keeps dragging its feet despite businesses, civil society, and the public all calling for the UK to keep step. Failure to keep up with global developments only stands to lose Britain its global leadership on modern slavery, and further creates an unlevel playing field between UK businesses and their counterparts, which is why we are calling for Business, Human Rights and Environment Act."

Chloe Cranston - Business and Human Rights Manager

“We are disappointed to see the Nationality and Borders Bill go for Royal Assent. It will harm victims of human trafficking by blocking them from support, making it harder for them to come forward or be identified and by expanding the harmful hostile environment policy. We will continue to challenge this legislation as it begins to be implemented.”

Jamie Fookes - Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group Coordinator at Anti-Slavery International

The Home Office’s Recovery Needs Assessment for modern slavery survivors is failing those it is supposed to protect

The Recovery Needs Assessment (RNA) was designed to provide tailored support to survivors of modern slavery, but a new report from the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group (ATMG) hosted by Anti-Slavery International, shows that it is failing the individuals it is supposed to protect. Insufficient support is making people vulnerable to the rising costs of living and heightening the risk of re-trafficking.  

LONDON | 26 April – The ATMG, with Anti-Slavery International, today publish the first independent review of the Recovery Needs Assessment, the mechanism through which survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking in England and Wales have their support needs assessed and provided for. In the wake of recent reports that the government will be sending asylum seekers to Rwanda, raising questions about the treatment of vulnerable people, this report outlines further ways that the Home Office is failing those in need.

Based on first-hand accounts of the RNA, the report is researched and informed by those who have experienced the process – survivors of modern slavery and support workers. The report outlines failings and shortcomings, including a stark failure to take account for full needs, including financial need – ever more crucial in the face of the rising cost of living.

While the Home Office states that “involving survivors in policy making will help to ensure we have robust and effective policies” the report demonstrates that many of the failures are rooted in the fact that survivors and the anti-trafficking sector were not consulted in the development of the RNA. We urge the Home Office to implement the report’s recommendations, and crucially to meaningfully consult with survivors and experts as they make the necessary improvements.

Key findings

Every survivor said that they had, at times, been destitute. By failing to provide for basic needs, the RNA leaves survivors vulnerable to the rising cost of living, increases debt, and hinders recovery, all things that can heighten the risk of re-trafficking. (pg. 21)

The needs of children are not met. Support is generally denied for children of trafficking victims. This can increase further financial hardship for survivors, meaning survivors often have to take their children to appointments and children can be exposed to emotional harm. (pg. 20)

The RNA is exceptionally complex, inefficient and unclear. Most survivors reported having to make important, impactful decisions with little understanding of the consequences. (pg. 14)

The RNA is not trauma-informed or person-centred.  There was a stark lack of consultation with survivors and the anti-trafficking sector in the development of the RNA. The UK is failing to uphold the Trauma-Informed Code of Conduct (TiCC), which it has endorsed. (pg. 28)

Kimberley, RNA Researcher at Anti-Slavery International said:

“It is clear from this research that the RNA requires a complete overhaul. It shows there was no engagement with survivors and stakeholders prior to implementing the RNA policy. Survivors are left making ill informed decisions in regard to their recovery and decisions are being made, as to what recovery needs a survivor has, without directly engaging with the survivor themselves.”

Olly, RNA Researcher at Anti-Slavery International said:

“As a survivor working on this project it was harrowing to discover the lack of knowledge survivors held over the RNA stage in their journey and their entitlements. The RNA report has brought to light the level of exclusion of survivors from their own RNA, and how damaging this is to their well-being and recovery.

“Survivors are having to prove they need on-going support even once recognised as a victim through a conclusive grounds decision. Survivors shouldn’t be made to feel overwhelmed by frequent evidence requests, left with the feeling of being disbelieved or re-triggered and challenged over their support needs. Survivor autonomy is key to a system that supports the recovery and well-being of those enduring the RNA process.”

Beth Mullan Feroze, Policy Officer at Anti-Slavery International said:

“It was important to us that survivors were given meaningful opportunities to give feedback on a process that they often felt excluded from and powerless within. The findings would not be as rich or valuable without them.

“Many support workers are going above and beyond to try and ensure that survivors get the support they need, unfortunately the bureaucratic and time-consuming process and limited nature of the support makes this difficult. Our research indicates that problems within the process are leading to survivors being left without the vital support they need and at increased risk of being re-trafficked or exploited further.

“We hope that this report and its recommendations will help guide policy makers to see the importance of a truly victim-centred and needs based approach to recovery because until that is in place this process will continue to fail survivors."

Neil Sammonds, UK and Europe Advocacy Manager at Anti-Slavery International said:

“Anti-Slavery International is very proud to host the ATMG and to support its vital research into the UK’s anti-trafficking support mechanisms and the promotion of survivor agency. This research highlights the positive value of involving people with lived experience in understanding and improving anti-trafficking policy, as discussed in the ATMG’s previous Agents for Change report, and the inevitable negative consequences of their marginalisation.”


Anti-Slavery International, founded in 1839, is committed to eradicating all forms of slavery throughout the world. We work at local, national, and international levels, including exemplar frontline projects with partner agencies around the world to address the root causes that enable modern slavery to flourish. Anti-Slavery International’s five-year organisational strategy works to deliver ‘freedom from slavery for everyone, always’ and focuses on four priority themes: ending child slavery, responsible business, migration and trafficking, and slavery and the environment.

The ATMG (Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group) is a coalition established in 2009 to monitor the UK’s implementation of European anti-trafficking legislation, hosted and chaired by Anti-Slavery International. The group examines all types of human trafficking, including internal trafficking and the trafficking of British nationals.