Modern slavery
Modern slavery

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Modern slavery

5 Looking to the future – ending modern slavery?

Before proceeding to study the final section of this course, Activity 9 asks you to consider issues around ending modern slavery.

Activity 9 Stopping modern slavery

Make some notes in response to the following questions.

  • What, in your opinion, are the key obstacles to ending modern slavery?
  • Is the current law effective?
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You will look at some of the challenges to ending modern slavery below.

Slavery continues in the twenty-first century in various forms. Acts of modern slavery are committed primarily by private actors. This has significant implications for addressing modern slavery from a human rights perspective. Individuals cannot be directly liable for human rights violations, therefore, the responsibility of the state for acts of modern slavery is narrowed to two circumstances:

  1. when the state is complicit in committing acts of slavery and forced labour of servitude
  2. when the state fails to fulfil its positive obligations under human rights law.

However, perpetrators of modern slavery can be punished under other branches of the law, particularly criminal law. As argued by Piotrowicz (2009), this may provide a pragmatic solution to the problem of impunity for acts of modern slavery (particularly THB) and may enable the focusing of efforts on developing further support and assistance to the victims.

In 2015, the UK Parliament passed the Modern Slavery Act 2015, which is designed to combat acts of modern slavery within the jurisdiction of the UK, punish perpetrators and to provide protection and support to victims.

Activity 10 Modern Slavery Act 2015

Use an internet search engine to find and familiarise yourself with the Modern Slavery Act 2015. Focus your reading on sections 1–5 of Part 1.

Please note: you do not need to read every section of the Act, but you need to have an idea about the general scope of the legislation.

In your opinion will the operation of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 make a change in combating modern slavery in the UK?

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The Modern Slavery Act 2015 introduced a number of developments in relation to tackling modern slavery:

  • consolidation of the existing human trafficking offences
  • an increase in the maximum sentence for human trafficking to life imprisonment
  • creation of an Anti-slavery Commissioner
  • restriction of movements and other prohibitions on convicted or suspected traffickers and slave drivers, to mitigate the risk they pose
  • creation of a new requirement on public bodies to report all suspected cases of human trafficking to the National Crime Agency (NCA).

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