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A consortium of British retailers have signed a statement expressing concern about ‘weak’ corporate anti-slavery laws. The list of companies to sign the statement include Clarks, The Co-op, M&S, Ocado and Tesco.

Citing how 25 million people are estimated to be in modern slavery around the world today, with 16 million thought to be working within the private sector, the signatories call on businesses to “take action to eradicate this terrible abuse”.

However, despite impressive action from some companies and sectors, compliance with Section 54 of the Act has been weak. For example, recent reports have found that in 2017 43 of the FTSE 100[ii] and over 40% of the government’s top 100 suppliers failed to meet the basic legal requirements of the Act[iii]. Additionally, two-thirds of businesses analysed in high risk sectors were found to have produced statements which failed to reference relevant slavery or human trafficking risks[iv].

The statement highlights a need for the UK Government to take further initiative in developing a central registry for companies’ modern slavery statements. It concludes by noting that it “echoes the report made by the Joint Committee on Human Rights in 2017 which described the lack of a “requirement for businesses to upload their statements onto a central database” as a “shortcoming” of the Act”, citing recent progress by countries like Australia.

More here.

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