Our response to the European Commission call for evidence on the proposed EU forced labour instrument
In February 2022, the European Commission committed to preparing a new legislative instrument to “effectively ban products made by forced labour from entering the EU market”.
The European Commission has since committed to publishing its proposal for this instrument in September 2022, and in May 2022 published its Call for Evidence for this proposal, committing to a ban which would cover both domestic (EU) and imported products. On 9 June 2022, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution, which advocates strongly for a new trade instrument to ban products made by forced labour.
Anti-Slavery International and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) welcome these developments with a view to ensure that goods made or transported in-whole or in-part with forced labour, including forced labour of children, cannot be sold in the European Union.
This contribution builds on Anti-Slavery International and ECCHR’s experience in working with partners based in countries with a high prevalence of forced labour which are linked to supply chains of products sold in the EU. Furthermore, this contribution builds on the lessons learnt from existing import control measures in the USA, and analysis of current gaps in EU legislation.
Joint submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery – state imposed forced labour in the Uyghur region
A joint submission by Anti-Slavery International, Investor Alliance for Human Rights, Uyghur Human Rights Project, and World Uyghur Congress on systematic imposed forced labour in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (the Uyghur Region) targeting the Uyghur population and other Turkic and Muslim-majority peoples on the basis of their religion and ethnicity.
Anti-Slavery International is campaigning alongside the Corporate Justice Coalition and other organisations to make the case for a new Business Human Rights and Environment Act (BHRE).
We have published a policy paper with an overview of the rationale behind our legislative call. We outline the UK’s current lack of mechanisms to hold companies accountable for a failure to prevent abuses, the need to level the playing field between businesses, as well as the urgency for guaranteeing access to justice for victims of corporate abuses. We also provide a series of recommendations to ensure the UK plays its part in addressing forced labour in value chains. This includes both the principal elements of the BHRE Act and a wider mix of additional measures.
Principal elements of a UK corporate duty to prevent adverse human rights and environmental impacts – A ‘failure to prevent’ law
A coalition of civil society organisations is calling for the introduction a new UK ‘mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence’ law, based on the duties to prevent tax evasion and bribery found in the Criminal Finances Act 2017 and the Bribery Act 2010 – as called for by the UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, and found to be legally feasible by the British Institute of International and Comparative Law.
These principles for a new law have been prepared by UK civil society organisations who are working to strengthen corporate accountability for human rights abuses, including modern slavery, and environmental damage. It provides an overview of the principle elements needed in such new legislation.
The principles are endorsed by over 30 individual UK organisations, including Anti-Slavery International.
EU law. Global impact. A report considering the potential impact of human rights due diligence laws on labour exploitation and forced labour
The European Commission will soon publish a proposal for an EU business and human rights law that would require companies operating in the EU to prevent and address human rights abuses and environmental damage in their global supply chains. This commitment to mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence could help tackle forced labour and child labour in supply chains around the world.
On 28 June 2021, we published new research, undertaken by the Rights Lab, University of Nottingham, to understand how the upcoming EU business and human rights law could affect workers’ human rights through two case studies: the leather industry in India, and the coffee industry in Brazil.
Anti-Slavery International and European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights’ position on import controls to address forced labour in supply chains
Following the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, we, together with the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights, have published a position paper on when and how governments should introduce import controls to end forced labour. Import controls should not be the only measure used to address forced labour in global supply chains. Instead, they should be introduced as part of strong legal, trade and development framework to address the root causes of forced labour – poverty, lack of legal protection, worker representation and discrimination. In particular, we have worked for many years to call for the introduction of stronger laws such as mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence (mHREDD), and we believe that the two approaches – mHREDD and import controls – are complementary. Although specifically concerned with developments in the EU, this position paper is applicable to all governments.
Anti-Slavery International response to the public consultation on the need and objectives for EU intervention on sustainable corporate governance. We took part in this consultation, together with partner organisations in more than 20 countries, including Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Nepal, South Africa and Turkmenistan. We also actively encouraged our supporters and allies to do the same, and we want to thank everyone who took part: this consultation proved to the European Commission that people all over the world look to the EU to show leadership, courage and compassion for oppressed people everywhere.
Joint civil society response to the Government’s response to the Transparency in Supply Chains consultation
Our statement with 9 partner organisations responds to the Government’s response to the Transparency in Supply Chains consultation, published in September 2020. We argue that a lack of commitment to meaningful sanctions and enforcement measures is a major concern – and that much tougher government action is needed to tackle modern slavery and other human rights abuses in corporate supply chains.
Written submission by members and endorsers of the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region to the BEIS Committee consultation on Forced labour in UK value chains
This submission has been submitted on behalf of the 31 members and endorsers of the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region, a coalition of over 280 Uyghur representative groups, civil society organisations, trade unions, faith-based groups and investors united to end state-sponsored forced labour and other egregious human rights abuses against people from the Uyghur Region in China, known to local people as East Turkistan.
What if? Case studies of human rights abuses and environmental harm linked to EU companies, and how EU due diligence laws could help protect people and the planet
Anti-Slavery International and ECCJ
ECCJ’s and Anti-Slavery International’s report details a number of case studies where EU-based companies have failed to address corporate abuse and environmental harm in their global value chains, profited from it, and so far managed to avoid liability before the courts.
The case studies clearly demonstrate how EU wide mandatory cross-sectoral human rights and environmental due diligence legislation, with improved access to remedy rules, would make a difference in these cases. Only by introducing binding legislation can we truly protect people and the planet, tackle human rights and environmental abuses linked to European operations, products and services, and finally hold out-of-control EU-based companies to account.
Now is the time to make it happen.
An EU mandatory due diligence legislation to promote businesses’ respect for human rights and the environment
As part of its sustained efforts to advocate for an EU legislation on mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence and as the legislative debate opens among EU institutions, Anti-Slavery International along with Action Aid, Amnesty International, CIDSE, Clean Clothes Campaign, ECCHR, ECCJ, FIDH, Friends of the Earth Europe, Global Witness and Oxfam have laid out a vision for the principal elements of such an EU legislation.
Due diligence has emerged as one of the primary tools for business enterprises, including financial institutions, to live up to their responsibilities towards people and planet.
It is understood as the process of identifying and assessing; ceasing, mitigating and preventing; tracking and monitoring; communicating and accounting for environmental and human rights risks and impacts. It is based on international standards that have been developed in collaboration with business enterprises, governments and civil society and across multiple sectors, and endorsed by the EU.
As the negotiations open, Anti-Slavery International stands open to dialogue with all stakeholders and will in particular invite its partners based in the Global South to provide their vision of what is needed to make change happen on the ground. The voices of people affected by forced and child labour and people vulnerable to labour exploitation must be central to the design and implementation of the legislation.
European Union proposed legislation on mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence – policy paper
Anti-Slavery International, along with a large coalition of NGOs and trade unions, is calling on the European Commission to introduce EU-wide human rights and environmental due diligence legislation. This law would require companies and financial institutions to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for human rights abuses and environmental damage caused by their operations, subsidiaries and value chains. This policy paper outlines why the legislation is important to prevent forced and child labour in global supply chains and Anti-Slavery International’s recommendations to the European Union and its member states on the legislation.
Over 100 civil society organisations and trade unions have called on the European Union to bring forth this term new corporate accountability legislation requiring companies to respect human rights and the environment in their global value chains and operations. Such legislation should establish a corporate duty to respect human rights and the environment and require companies and financial institutions to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for abuses and harm in their domestic and global operations, activities, products, services, supply chains and exports. The legislation should hold such companies legally accountable and provide access to justice for victims.
Anti-Slavery has been leading this action, together with NGO partners including Clean Clothes Campaign and the European Coalition for Corporate Justice.
A call for EU human rights and environmental due diligence legislation:
Submission by CORE Coalition, Anti-Slavery International, Amnesty International, Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, Christian Aid, Environmental Justice Foundation, Fairtrade Foundation, FLEX, Freedom Fund, Freedom United, Traidcraft Exchange, TUC, UNICEF and UNISON.
We’re calling on the UK government to:
- Introduce mandatory criteria for reporting
- Introduce an effective Government-run registry
- Introduce meaningful sanctions for failures to comply with the TISC provision
- Extend the reporting requirement to the public sector
- For the UK government to go beyond reporting and introduce mandatory human rights due diligence.
EU action on slavery in supply chains: Briefing for Westminster Hall Debate on the independent review of the Modern Slavery Act
Improving the effectiveness of the supply chain reporting requirement in UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 and moving towards mandatory human rights due diligence. This review considers the successes and limitations of the implementation of the reporting requirements set out in the UK Modern Slavery Act to reducing modern slavery in supply chains. The review identifies that research by civil society and reports by Parliamentary committees have exposed flaws in the legislation and its implementation.
This report brings the strong links between Turkey and Turkmenistan to light. Being the 11th largest cotton producer in the world, Turkmenistan’s apparel and textile exports pose a significant risk of forced labour tainting global supply chains and present a challenge to brands’ due diligence. Anti-Slavery International has documented cases of Turkish enterprises that operate in Turkmenistan and claim to sell their products to well-known international brands. These links show that Turkey is acting as the main gateway for its cotton products to global supply chains, and brands should be aware of it.
This report is a rapid assessment of labour conditions in Vietnam’s export-oriented textile and garment sector. The findings of the report, that highlight the risk of forced labour, child labour and child slavery, showcase the need for pan-European legislation that includes mandatory human rights due diligence at the EU level. As the second largest garment producer in Asia, and key trading partner of the EU, the Vietnam case was worth looking at. With Vietnam and the EU in the middle of negotiations on a future trade agreement, this study proves the EU should set higher standards for those it chooses to trade with.
This briefing for European policy makers outlines the increased risk of forced and child labour, in global supply chains of goods and services. It argues that extant national and EU law and policies are insufficient to eradicate slavery in supply chains, since they cover only specific sectors (such as conflict minerals or timber) or generic transparency requirements. Anti-Slavery International calls for a systematic, pan-European approach to tackling forced and child labour in global supply chains that includes binding due diligence, requiring businesses to proactively tackle human rights abuses throughout their supply chains.
New report from Anti-Slavery International exposes how top UK high street brands are selling clothing made by girls in slavery in southern India. Our research has uncovered the routine use of forced labour of girls and young women in the spinning mills and garment factories of five Indian clothing manufacturers that supply major western clothing retail brands.
Anti-Slavery International, Paul Robson.
This report finds that trafficking of children to cocoa farms in Côte d’Ivoire still occurs. The research found significant numbers of young people in Mali and Burkina Faso who had worked as children in cocoa farms in Côte d’Ivoire in the last five years. The practices occur in the context of large-scale movements of people within the region including the trafficking of children to other agricultural activities and to other sectors.