15 July 2016
Key organisations, including Anti-Slavery International, have announced they will establish an Open-source Registry to host businesses’ modern slavery statements.
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires commercial organisations operating in the UK and with an annual turnover above £36m to produce a Modern Slavery Statement setting out the steps they are taking to address and prevent the risk of modern slavery in their own operations and supply chains.
A number of key stakeholders that were influential in securing the inclusion of a Transparency in Supply Chains clause in the Modern Slavery Act advocated for the government to host a central database or ‘repository’ that would host all modern slavery statements. We remain convinced that a registry is essential to enable the public – parliamentarians, civil society, investors, government and other key stakeholders – to review the statements and hold companies to account for compliance with the legislation, and to evaluate companies’ commitment and actions in tackling the risks and incidence of modern slavery.
The government has been consistent in stating that they will not establish this central registry themselves, but agree that this would be valuable.
In light of this, a number of key stakeholders – the ETI, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Anti-Slavery International, FLEX, KnowTheChain, Humanity United and the Freedom Fund – have agreed that the establishment of a transparent, free and open access registry is critical and urgent, and have been considering a range of options to establish this. We have also communicated with the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner who supports this aim and though not specifically endorsing any model at this time, will provide independent scrutiny.
Our registry has the support of key stakeholders and meets a core set of agreed criteria. It will be: independent, accountable to the public interest, robust, credible, open, accessible and sustainable in the long term. We feel it is also vital that there exists a platform for analysis of compliance with the legislation, an assessment of the quality of reporting, share lessons and insights so that it can drive increased transparency, better reporting and responses by companies to tackle modern slavery. We are also aware of other initiatives to establish a registry.
We have agreed that a new central registry will be established with the support and endorsement of key stakeholders. It will be overseen by a Steering Committee that will provide advice and oversight for the project. The registry will be led and managed by KnowTheChain and Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.
We will provide you with an update on progress in September.