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IJM UK joins with 60+ organisations to call for next government to prioritise tackling modern slavery

June 2024

As the UK general election approaches in July, the anti-trafficking sector has come together to call for a renewed commitment to ending trafficking and modern slavery in the UK and beyond.

60+ organisations including IJM UK signed a joint open letter, published in full below, highlighting three key priorities for the future government to take action on:

  1. prevent modern slavery;
  2. prioritise sustainable recovery;
  3. and uphold justice.

Find out how else IJM UK is helping stop trafficking in the UK >>

Joint open letter

In advance of the forthcoming general election, our organisations ask that all political parties express a renewed commitment to tackling modern slavery in the UK and around the world.

Policy makers and those delivering services must prioritise engaging and consulting with communities at risk and survivors in a consistent and meaningful manner. This is essential to ensuring that our collective response meets survivors’ needs and reflects their hopes and sense of justice.

In addition to pledging to tackle modern slavery in election manifestos, we ask that any future government commit to the following principles to guide their anti-slavery strategy.

Prevent modern slavery

Action must be taken across a range of policy areas in order to minimise the risk of modern slavery and human trafficking amongst at-risk communities both in the UK and globally. Hostile immigration policies, the lack of meaningful protection for workers, restrictive visas, inadequate child protection, homelessness and many other intersecting policies create vulnerability to exploitation and abuse. Any future government must therefore commit to adopting a holistic approach to minimise such vulnerabilities.

Prioritise sustainable recovery

In responding to survivors of modern slavery, it is essential that the Government adopt a survivor-centred and human rights-based approach. Recent years have shown that an immigration and law enforcement-led approach to modern slavery is ineffective both for ensuring adequate protection for survivors and for holding traffickers to account. Equally, the conflation of modern slavery with immigration has not only heightened vulnerability to exploitation, it has also undermined survivors’ recovery.

Survivors must be able to realise their rights to support, protection and justice, as contained in international law. This requires that survivors are able to access assistance including financial support, safe accommodation, legal aid advice and representation, long-term independent advocacy and support, compensation, and leave to remain. This requires a cross-government strategy.

Uphold justice

Responsibility must underpin the Government’s anti-slavery strategy. Modern slavery remains a low-risk, high-profit crime: relatively few traffickers are convicted and sentences are lenient. Survivors rarely receive compensation from those who exploit them. Businesses should be held accountable for their responsibility to identify and mitigate forced labour in their operations and supply chains.

We encourage the future government to commit to the vision in which perpetrators are held to account, victims are compensated, and businesses act responsibly.

Signatories (updated 3rd June 2024):

  1. IJM UK
  2. Hope for Justice
  3. The Salvation Army
  4. Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit (ATLEU)
  5. SOHTIS (Survivors of Human Trafficking in Scotland)
  6. Anti-Slavery International
  7. Snowdrop Project
  8. Hope at Home
  9. Migrant Help
  10. Causeway
  11. Justice and Care
  12. West London Welcome
  13. Sophie Hayes Foundation
  14. Bawso
  15. Bakhita Centre for Research on Slavery, Exploitation and Abuse, St. Mary’s University
  16. Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX)
  17. Medaille Trust
  18. JustRight Scotland
  19. ECPAT UK (Every Child Protected Against Trafficking)
  20. Status Now 4 All (SN4A)
  21. Birmingham Asylum & Refugee Association (BARA)
  22. Midlands Asylum & Refugee Action Group (MARAG)
  23. René Cassin, the Jewish voice for human rights.
  24. Unseen
  25. Kalayaan
  26. Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS)
  27. Kanlungan Filipino Consortium
  28. Migrant Health and Care Workers
  29. Glass Door Homeless Charity
  30. Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group (ATMG)
  31. Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA)
  32. TRIBE Freedom Foundation
  33. Stolen Dreams
  34. Youth for Freedom Collective
  35. Arise Foundation
  36. The William Gomes Podcast
  37. Southwark Against Modern Slavery
  38. Helen Bamber Foundation
  39. BASNET – UK BME AntiSlavery Network
  40. AFRUCA Safeguarding Children
  41. Palm Cove Society
  42. After Exploitation
  43. The Voice of Domestic Workers
  44. Hestia
  45. Association of Labour Providers
  46. A21
  47. Scottish Refugee Council
  48. The Vavengers
  49. Invisible Traffick
  50. Hibiscus
  51. It’s a Penalty
  52. Shiva Foundation
  53. Southeast and East Asian Centre (SEEAC)
  54. The Anti-Slavery Collective
  55. Jesuit Refugee Service UK
  56. Azalea
  57. Worker Support Centre (WSC)
  58. Ella’s
  59. Praxis
  60. Human Trafficking Foundation
  61. Voices of Hope
  62. Blue Bear Freedom

Stock image.

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