US Congress to vote on supply chain slavery law

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The US Congress is to be asked to vote on a bill targeting slavery in the supply chain. The bipartisan bill would require companies with sales over $100 million to disclose the measures they are taking to prevent human trafficking, slavery and child labour in their supply chains as part of their annual reports.

California has already passed a similar law but that only applied to companies trading in the state. The UK is also planning a similar law.

The US bill is being introduced by Democrat representatives Carolyn Maloney and Republican Chris Smith. It coincides with publication of the US State Department’s 2015 Trafficking in Person Report which stressed the need for governments to “set clear expectations for businesses on human rights issues and adopt policies that promote greater transparency and better reporting on anti-trafficking efforts in supply chains”.

Rep Chris Smith said: “Some companies may participate knowingly in human trafficking to pad the bottom line; others are wilfully ignorant of where and how their inexpensive products are made; and still others simply do not know.”

“The bottom line is there is no excuse for a company’s complicity or ignorance in the suffering endured by human trafficking victims hidden away in the supply chain. It is not enough for a company to say they are unaware of human trafficking in their product line; consumers and Congress want to know that companies are actively taking steps to ensure there are no connections between human trafficking victims and their business products and services.”

Rep Carolyn Maloney described the bill as a first step. “There is no question that many goods being sold to American consumers are produced with slave labour, and we have a moral obligation to do something about it,” she said.

“This legislation simply requires businesses to publicly disclose what actions they have voluntarily undertaken to remove labour abuses from their supply chains. It is a good first step we can take to improve reporting and transparency so that we can enforce existing laws against labour abuses and allow consumers to make more informed decisions.”

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