HRW calls for revisions in Australian modern slavery bill


Australia’s proposed modern slavery law needs revisions and reconsiderations to be effective enough to prevent and end labour rights abuses in the country, the Human Rights Watch has said.

“Australia’s modern slavery bill takes some critical steps toward holding companies to account for serious abuses in their supply chains, but to be truly effective the law needs teeth,” said Elaine Pearson, Australia director at Human Rights Watch.

The bill came after constant consultations and negotiations with the non-governmental organizations and other businesses. The modern slavery bill 2018 defines to include the worst forms of child labour, human trafficking and criminal offences including forced labour, forced marriage and slavery-like practices.

The bill requires companies with an annual revenue of AU $100 million to submit statements and elucidate their operations and supply chains. Furthermore, they are required to describe risks for modern slavery, attempts to assess and address risks and the effectiveness of the suggested actions.

The Human Rights Watch also urged to lower the cap to AU$25 million and counselled the government to publicize a list of companies covered under the law to make it more difficult for companies to ignore the requirements.

“The bill should lower the threshold for reporting, require the government to publicize a list of companies required to report its practices and impose penalties for noncompliance,” said Elaine.

Moreover, the bill also requires companies to conduct systematic examinations of their operations and examine for any modern slavery risks. They should further provide for penalties when companies fail to comply with the law.

“Companies that fail to identify and address forced labour in the supply chains should face legal
consequences,” said Elaine. She further added that the greater transparency will also help Australian consumers to realize that their dollars aren’t supporting trafficking.



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