In December 2022, the Modern Slavery PEC responded to the UK Joint Committee on Human Rights' (JCHR) call for evidence as part of its inquiry into the human rights of asylum seekers in the UK.
The submission focuses on Questions 8 and 9 in the JCHR's call for evidence, which focus on modern slavery.
The submission draws on evidence from existing research and data, and legal analysis undertaken by Dr Marija Jovanovic. The submission considers the effectiveness of the UK’s legal framework for addressing modern slavery against relevant human rights standards, in particular the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (ECAT) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It also sets out an assessment of available evidence to answer JCHR's question "Is there any evidence that modern slavery laws are being abused by people 'gaming' the system?"
Summary of recommendations:
- The effectiveness of the legal framework for tackling modern slavery and human trafficking is likely to be improved if evaluations of the current framework, by both Government and Parliament, meaningfully engage survivors of modern slavery and take account of the issues raised by research. Proactive steps should be taken to ensure such meaningful engagement and take account of evidence.
- If the purpose of the proposed Modern Slavery Bill is to strengthen protection and support for victims of modern slavery in UK law, it will require careful scrutiny to ensure that the opportunity is taken to provide a more secure legal basis to entitlements the UK is required by its international obligations to guarantee and make effective in practice.
- The UK Government should ensure that proposed amendments to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 do not risk diminishing protections for victims of modern slavery and address the issues identified by research around how the effectiveness of the Act can be improved. The amendments require careful scrutiny given concerns around compatibility with human rights obligations.
- The JCHR should encourage the UK Government to define the precise nature of abuse of the Modern Slavery Act about which it is concerned and publish more data to enable assessment of the nature and scale of particular abuses.