Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking

Modern slavery affects many industries, across millions of communities, all over the world. Sedex believes we can end modern slavery and is helping businesses to combat this global problem. We have put together some resources to help you understand modern slavery, and how your business can help fight this issue.

1. The UK Modern Slavery Act 2015

This legislation requires businesses who operate fully or partly in the UK, with an annual turnover of over £36 million, to publish a slavery and human trafficking statement.

We have produced a modern day slavery infographic, to help you understand the main requirements for writing a modern slavery statement. Writing your annual slavery and human trafficking statement is simple. By joining Sedex and connecting with your suppliers in a transparent way, you are becoming more aware of how your supply chain operates.

Our services help you to learn more about your business. By understanding these issues, you are in a better position to take action and implement solutions to prevent issues like modern slavery. Click here to view the full infographic.

At the Sedex Conference 2018, Warner Ten Kate, the Dutch National Public Prosecutor for Trafficking in Human Beings and People Smuggling, led a keynote discussion about modern slavery and its legal implications in the Netherlands. You can watch the video below to learn about ways authorities and corporations can tackle modern slavery using practical examples.


2. Modern slavery: more than a statistic

In a recent publication of the Raconteur, focusing on supply chain strategies, The Times highlighted Sedex as key to identifying and preventing modern slavery in the supply chain. Click here to read the full article.

Home Office figures from 2013 estimated there were between 10,000 and 13,000 victims of slavery and trafficking in the UK. By 2016, National Crime Agency data found the number of people referred for help had doubled in just three years.


3. What are other countries doing to tackle modern slavery via law enforcement?


Australia currently has around 4,300 modern day slaves living in Australia. The Australian Government is looking to introduce a Modern Slavery Act in mid-2018. This will require companies, with a turnover of $50 – $100 million AUD, to publish a statement about what they are doing to tackle modern slavery. The Australian Government will take one step further than the UK, and will publish a list of those companies that must comply.

The legislation will help create transparency and build on international voluntary initiatives including the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This will build on current Australian laws, such as the 2013 laws introduced to improve investigations, prosecutions and victim support for modern slavery crimes.


Brazil used to publish a list of companies who used forced labour across their business. Lista Suja (the Dirty List) named and shamed companies, and was regularly updated and available publicly. However, in 2014, the list was suspended due to backlash from industries and financial penalties stopped.

The Ministry of Work and Labour has since created a new list with the same companies published. If the companies pay all their fines and prove they have corrected the issues, they are removed from the list.

Brazil also has about 2,000 labour inspectors who raid locations where slave labour is suspected. More than 50,000 victims of forced labour have been freed in the past two decades as a result of these inspections.


In February 2017, the French Parliament adopted a law to establish a duty of vigilance obligation for companies and their subcontractors. This requires them to publish their annual plans that may risk environmental, human rights and health and security violations in their supply chain. The French law applies only to French companies, and is based on the number of staff employed (5,000 staff in France or 10,000 staff from their combined French and foreign offices). It is therefore estimated that around 150 – 200 French corporates are impacted – compared to around 13,000 in the UK.

Hong Kong

For a long time, Hong Kong did not have a specific Modern Slavery Act, but rather an Organised and Serious Crime Ordinance Act, which includes a maximum prison sentence of 10 years for those trafficking persons for illegal activities, such as prostitution.

In 2018 the Legislative Council sent the Chief Executive a draft Modern Slavery Bill 2017 to be considered for passing. The bill proposes to amend the Organised and Serious Crime Ordinance to include more offence types, such as a Slavery Offence, Human Trafficking Offence, and Forced Marriage Offence. The bill would require some businesses to publish a statement about how they are tackling modern day slavery.


The Global Slavery Index 2016 states an estimated 290,000 people in Japan are working in slave-like servitude. The government’s response to this issue has been criticised, due to a lack of firm legislation to cover modern slavery.

The Netherlands

In February 2017, the Dutch Parliament adopted a bill requiring companies to determine whether child labour exists in their supply chains and if so, set out a plan of action on how to combat it. This law is called the ‘Child Labour Due Diligence Law’. The law applies not only to companies that are registered in the Netherlands, but also to companies that sell to a Dutch customer. The law enters force from 1st January 2020, although companies can send their statements voluntarily before then.

United States

According to the Global Slavery Index, there are approximately 57,700 people in modern slavery in the US. The US have formed both an Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, along with the National Survivor Network, a network of 200 human trafficking survivors seeking to abolish slavery and trafficking, who work on strategic advocacy at local and national level ( In 2015, the Office on Trafficking in Persons was set up to develop anti-trafficking strategies and policies.

Additionally, the US have enforced the 2010 California Transparency in Supply Chains Act and the 202 United States Executive Order 13627, which require businesses with a turnover of over $100,000 USD to report on how they are combating modern slavery issues.

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