27 February 2015
This Wednesday (February 25) the Modern Slavery Bill went through report stage in the House of Lords.
The Bill is intended to strengthen protections against forced labour and human trafficking.
Although a welcome and necessary step, we reported in December that the Modern Slavery Bill doesn’t do enough – particularly because it does not provide for adequate victim protection.
Anthony Steen, who advised on the legislation and chairs the Human Trafficking Foundation said at the time: “The bill is wholly and exclusively about law enforcement – but it shouldn’t be enforcement-based, it should be victim-based. We have majored on the wrong thing. It is positive in the sense that it is an entirely new initiative, but is it going to do anything?”
“The reason why we have so few convictions in Britain is that police scare the living daylights out of victims”, he said.
The TUC stated its position on the issue: “The TUC supports the bill but calls on the House of Lords to provide greater protection to overseas domestic staff working in this country. These workers accompany their employers, who have themselves migrated to the UK. Often without family and friends, these workers can be isolated in their employers’ house and are very vulnerable. All too many are subjected to abuse.
“In the past, overseas domestic workers were allowed to change their employers’ name on their visa, to give them an escape route from abusive employers. The coalition government removed this protection. We believe that this right needs to be reinstated, and urge the House of Lords to vote to do so.”
The third reading in the House of Lords will take place next week.