Can we help Eastern European migrants who are victims of modern slavery?

Today we spoke with the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Mr Kevin Hyland OBE to contribute to the implementation of Commissioner’s office strategic plan for improved identification and care for victims of modern slavery. The meeting was organised by Labour Exploitation Advisory Group, hosted by Focus on Labour Exploitation.

Modern slavery is a crime where a person or a group is forced to work against their will. It may happen in any sector and take any form: people may be forced to work in agriculture, construction, care, in sex business, as domestic servants, beggars, pickpockets and many more. It is a crime and must be reported to the police.

We believe that immigration status of a victim of labour exploitation and modern slavery must not be the primary factor in deciding the outcome of justice redress proceedings. Immigration considerations must be removed from these proceedings. We are calling for protection of victims as humans and not immigrants.
We strongly support enhancing outreach to communities at risk and setting up broad partnerships to help people report crime in a manner that is safe for them and empowers them to pursue justice. We agree that the business sector has responsibilities to satisfy rights of workers in supply chains.

We pointed out that long supply chains, confusion as to worker’s employment status (employed – self-employed – agency worker?), together with weak points of access to justice and very low employment rights education cause vulnerability among some groups of workers in Britain, and among them migrants from Eastern European countries.

We called for improved partnership working with statutory services, enhanced communication and outreach to groups at risk in community languages, and changes to the National Referral Mechanism that will put victims in the position of power and control over their situation.