In a move heralded by Unicef UK as “an historic moment in the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking”, the Modern Slavery Bill passed its last stage in Parliament yesterday (Wednesday 25th March) and is due to receive Royal Assent shortly.
The legislation will provide law enforcement with stronger tools to stamp out modern slavery, ensure slave drivers can receive suitably severe punishments and enhance protection of and support for victims. It will introduce a defence for victims of slavery and trafficking compelled to commit an offence and make provision for child-trafficking advocates.
More transparency in supply chains will be introduced, requiring businesses over a certain size threshold to disclose each year what action they have taken to ensure there is no modern slavery in their business or supply chains.
The Modern Slavery Bill is the latest in a long line of measures that Liberal Democrats have taken in Government to tackle human trafficking since coming into office in 2010. The new National Crime Agency was created, which will tackle serious and complex crime and spearhead the fight against human trafficking.
The 2011 Human Trafficking Strategy will strengthen support for victims, while the 2012 Protection of Freedoms Act created new offences to prevent internal labour trafficking and to prosecute UK nationals for trafficking a person regardless of where in the world the offence occurred or was intended to occur.
Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West Stephen Williams said:
“Slavery is abhorrent and has absolutely no place in the world. I am proud that the Coalition Government is playing its part to stamp it out.
“The Modern Slavery Bill will offer us a huge opportunity to change how we treat victims of slavery, offer more protections, particularly to children, and provide more tools to go after the terrible people who perpetrate these crimes.”
Notes to editors
- Full statement by David Bull, Unicef UK Executive Director: http://blogs.unicef.org.uk/2015/03/26/modern-slavery-bill-becomes-law-unicef-uk-statement/