Ending slavery may be everyone’s business – but so is making sure survivors have a support system they can trust.
18 October 2020
Anti-Slavery International and a coalition of human rights organisations have written an open letter calling on the government to support two proposed laws that would support victims of modern slavery. The letter – published on Anti-Slavery Day, 18 October, in the Sunday Times, calls on the government to:
- Support the Conservative peer Lord McColl’s amendment to the Immigration and Social Security Bill, Clause 12, that would give European nationals who are confirmed victims of modern slavery the right to remain in the UK with access to support for at least 12 months; and
- Set aside time for Parliament to consider Lord McColl’s and Iain Duncan Smith MP’s Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill, which would give ALL victims of modern slavery the right to remain in the UK with access to support for at least 12 months, to help them to begin their recovery.
Clause 12 addresses an unintended consequence of Brexit, which could leave some victims of modern slavery at risk of being sent back into the hands of their abusers. In today’s letter, the human rights organisations – including those that work directly with survivors – note that no-one wants to see this injustice. Anti-Slavery International has called on its supporters to write to MPs urging them to vote in favour of victims’ rights when they debate Clause 12 and other amendments on 19 October.
Read the letter:
Last week the House of Lords amended the Immigration and Social Security Bill to prevent confirmed victims of modern slavery who are from the EU experiencing a significant reduction in their rights from 1 January. Peers voted by a majority of 101 for an amendment, introduced by the Conservative Lord McColl, in order to avoid this terrible outcome, which could have sent victims of modern slavery straight back into the hands of their abusers: an egregious unintended consequence of Brexit, which nobody wants.
Lord McColl’s modest and decent proposal will give those EU victims who meet certain criteria a limited right to remain in the UK and access public services. Now known as Clause 12 of the amended Bill, it is up for consideration by the House of Commons on Monday 19 October – fittingly, one day after Anti-Slavery Day. Clause 12 should transcend any debate about Brexit and be seen on its own merit as the right and decent thing to do for victims of modern slavery. As Lord McColl noted when introducing the amendment, “the restoration of our sovereignty does not require us to create a situation in which the effective rights of some confirmed victims of modern slavery are diminished”. Five and a half years after the Modern Slavery Act passed into law, we hope the Government and MPs will give Clause 12 their full support.
Clause 12 addresses a serious injustice that would affect European nationals – but all victims of modern slavery, including British nationals, need guaranteed support. That is why we are also calling on the government to make time for both Houses of Parliament to consider the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill, which would guarantee support for all victims of modern slavery following identification. This Bill, which is co-sponsored by Lord McColl and the former Conservative leader, the Rt Hon Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, has been awaiting its Second Reading in the House of Lords since January. Between the Bill and Clause 12, the Government now has two opportunities to make sure Britain can stand as a beacon for freedom from slavery. Victims are counting upon it to do the right thing.
Jasmine O’Connor OBE, CEO, Anti- Slavery International
Nola Leach, Chief Executive, CARE
Christian Guy, CEO, Justice and Care
Andy Cook, CEO, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ)
Andrew Wallis OBE, CEO, Unseen
Red Godfrey Sagoo, CEO, The Sophie Hayes Foundation
Minh Dang, Director, Survivor Alliance
Philip Ishola, CEO, Love 146
Kerry Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Helen Bamber Foundation
Victoria Marks, Director, ATLEU
Emily Chalke, Co-Director, Ella’s
Karen Anstiss, Service Manager, Caritas Bakhita House
Dr Julia Tomas Anti-Slavery Coordinator, The Passage
Rita Gava, Director, Kalayaan
Liisa Wiseman, Project Manager, Birmingham Methodist District’s Adavu Project
Marissa Begonia, Director, The Voice of Domestic Workers
Patrick Ryan, CEO, Hestia
Nicola Lambe, Chief Executive, Ashiana Sheffield
Baldish Sohal, Head of Modern Slavery Support Services, Black Country Women’s Aid
Caroline O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer, Migrant Help
David Westlake, CEO, IJM UK
Lara Bundock, CEO, The Snowdrop Project
Luke de Pulford, CEO, The Arise Foundation
Garry Smith, Chief Executive, Medaille Trust
Ben Cooley, CEO, Hope for Justice
Caroline Virgo, Director, The Clewer Initiative
Debbie Ariyo OBE, Chair BME Anti-Slavery Network (BASNET)
Patricia Durr, Chief Executive, ECPAT UK
Steve Murrells, Chief Executive – Co-op Group
Yvonne Hall, Managing Director, Palm Cove Society
Louise Gore, Equiano Project Manager, Jericho
Lucila Granada, Chief Executive Officer, FLEX
Kate Roberts, Chair, Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group (ATMG)
Katharine Bryant, Lead of European Engagement, Walk Free
Kathy Betteridge, Major. Director Anti Trafficking & Modern Slavery. The Salvation Army
Peter Andrews, Head of Sustainability Policy, British Retail Consortium (BRC)
Robin Brierley, Executive Director. West Midlands Anti Slavery Network
Baroness Young of Hornsey
Lord McColl of Dulwich
Anthony Steen CBE, creator of the Bill for Anti-Slavery Day
Lord John Randall of Uxbridge
The Modern Slavery Act 5 years on
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