During the open dialogue sessions of our STR Responsible Sourcing Multi-stakeholder Roundtables on the implementation of The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, some interesting topics came up that we would like to share with you:
- Best practice case of Brazil combating forced labor in cooperation with non-governmental organizations
- Legislation on human trafficking – how to adapt the audit protocol
Best practice case of Brazil combating forced labor in cooperation with non-governmental organizations
In Brazil, the Pastoral Land Commission (PLC) and Reporter Brasil have been working together with the government to address slavery. Victims will seek sanctuary from the PLC and the PLC will report human rights violations to law enforcement. Reporter Brasil will then accompany law enforcement on their raids of facilities/ farms, publicize the footage gathered and investigate the entire supply chain to identify exactly where the product arrives at the end of the supply chain. Reporter Brasil will then meet with the brand or brands involved in the supply chain and inform them about the “tainted” products, giving the brand the opportunity to create change. See more information on the Free the Slaves website.
Furthermore, together with the International Labor Organization, Ethos Institute and Reporter Brasil, the Brazilian government regularly publicizes the so-called “laundry list” – a list of all employers and/or their middleman who exploit people through slave labor in Brazil.
The U.S. should look to Brazil for an example of how slavery can be tackled effectively.
Legislation on human trafficking – how to adapt the audit protocol
Fact is: Slavery is illegal everywhere. However, when it comes to human trafficking, legal standards and definitions may differ from country to country. It is important to know the local laws. The Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report is a good resource on country laws on human trafficking and their enforcement. The ranking by country gives a concise overview.
It is also important to remember the difference between forced labor and human trafficking. Forced labor can be an exploitative condition in which a victim of human trafficking is trapped, but not all forced labor cases are cases of human trafficking. In some legislation, the element of movement is essential in the existence of a human trafficking case. The UN definition of trafficking underlines movement, whereas in New York State movement is not required if other components of force, fraud and coercion are present. Therefore, clients should first evaluate whether slavery and human trafficking are actually part of their audit scope and second, define what legislation should be followed.
During audits, there may be indicators of human trafficking, but in order to verify an actual case of trafficking, auditors may need to go outside the four walls of the factory and even to the sending countries where the recruitment process took place. Just because a factory passes an audit doesn’t mean there are no human trafficking issues. Organized crime is highly sophisticated.
Recruitment agencies pose a major risk when it comes to human trafficking. Suppliers are at least one step removed from the hiring process, brands are at a minimum two steps removed. Recent reports on the use of agencies and their involvement in labor abuses ranging from wage and hour violations to human trafficking reflect this problem.
Other highlights from our Roundtable discussions can be accessed here. For more information on how to respond to SB 657, please see STR Responsible Sourcing’s California Transparency in Supply Chains Act page.