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Experts Call For Public Register, Financial Penalties, And Commissioner To Address Modern Slavery

A discussion paper from leading experts on proposed modern slavery legislation recommends a public register to record compliance, financial penalties, mandatory reporting for all entities, and the establishment of an Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

The paper, An opportunity for impact: recommendations for regulating modern slavery in supply chains in Aotearoa New Zealand, comes as the Government has launched public consultation on legislation to address modern slavery.

The authors outline 10 recommendations to ensure legislation to address modern slavery in New Zealand is fit for purpose. Author and spokesperson, Rebekah Armstrong, says it’s important to get the legislation right the first time.

“We have a unique opportunity as a nation to design and implement a regulatory system that is set it up for success. The recommendations outlined in this paper are unique to New Zealand’s geopolitical and cultural context, but they also recognise international developments.

“This is a chance to design legislation that truly works in the national context and that serves the purpose at the heart of such law: to prevent and address the exploitation of people and communities.”

Ms Armstrong says it’s vital the Government consider all of the group’s 10 recommendations in order to address the multifaceted and complex challenge that is modern slavery.

The recommendations include:

  • Applying law to address modern slavery to businesses of all sizes; Government; and the not-for-profit sector.
  • Introducing mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence.
  • Requiring transparency in both domestic and international supply chains.
  • Compulsory reporting criteria.
  • Establishing a public register to publish compliance statements
  • Creating an Anti-Slavery Commissioner for Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Introducing financial penalties and exclusion from public tender and public listing for entities that fail to comply with modern slavery law.
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Ms Armstrong says the recommendations will allow businesses with good practices to flourish while ensuring those that ignore or indulge in modern slavery are held accountable for their impact on human rights.

The authors say the timing of the proposed law is significant in the wake of the global pandemic and other disruptive events, including conflict and climate change.

“As supply chain management is evolving, companies and non-government organisations have an opportunity to work closely together to understand the nuances of modern slavery at a local level, and develop more integrated, sector-wide insights and solutions which are driven by workers’ perspectives. This will help mitigate workers increased vulnerability to exploitation,” Ms Armstrong says.

The authors are urging the business community and other interested stakeholders to participate in the Government’s public consultation process on the proposed law which runs until June 7, 2022.

“We hope this recommendation paper serves to inform, educate and inspire New Zealanders and New Zealand companies. We want this law to have maximum impact; to align with Kiwi business values; and to ensure that freedom, fairness, and dignity is entrenched in the operations and supply chains of all companies in Aotearoa New Zealand.”

A full version of the report is available here: Submissions on the proposed legislation to address modern slavery can be made here:

The authors of the recommendation report are:

  • Dr Natalia Szablewska: Professor in Law and Society at the Open University
  • Rebecca Kingi: Senior Policy Advisor
  • Rebekah Armstrong: Head of Advocacy and Justice at World Vision
  • Quintin Lake: Co-founder of Fifty Eight

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