Modern Slavery Bill Draft fails the victims of slavery

Modern Slavery Bill draft fails the victims of slavery says Anti-Slavery International.

16 December 2013

The draft Modern Slavery Bill, published today, does not address the protection of victims, says Anti-Slavery International. The organisation says that this element is not only a fulfilment of the legal right of a victim to be protected and supported, but also crucial for facilitation successful prosecution of traffickers.

Theresa May’s bill consolidates and simplifies existing slavery and trafficking offences, increases the maximum sentence available to life imprisonment and creates a new anti-slavery commissioner.

Director of Anti-Slavery International Aidan McQuade said:

‘We welcome the move to consolidate anti-slavery legislation in one bill; however, the lack of provisions for victim protection in the bill means that not only does it fail the victims of this horrendous crime but also is a missed opportunity for prosecuting the criminals behind it.

‘Currently many trafficked persons are often not identified as victims, especially if their immigration status is irregular when they are more likely to be detained and removed from the country than protected. Many victims are prosecuted, for example those found forced to work on cannabis farms. If the victims are not recognised, then the crime is not recognised and the criminals go unpunished.

‘These deficiencies could be reversed by putting protection measures for victims in the Bill: exclusion of a person’s immigration status in considering whether they have been a victim of slavery, provision for a right of appeal against a National Referral Mechanism decision, introduction of a system of guardianship for trafficked children who commonly go missing from authorities’ care and ensuring that victims are not prosecuted for crimes they have been compelled to commit while enslaved.

‘It also disappointing that the Anti-Slavery Commissioner, who will oversee the implementation of the government’s anti-slavery policies, will not be polictically independent.

‘Unfortunately the Home Secretary chose to ignore the evidence in front of her, and while consolidated and improved trafficking and forced labour offences are needed, these alone will have little effect unless a victim protection clause is introduced alongside them.’

Note to editors

For more media information or to arrange interviews, contact:
Jakub Sobik, Anti-Slavery International Press Officer at j.sobik@antislavery.org or on 07912 145610.