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Catholic bishops support introduction of Modern Slavery Bill in Australia

The Modern Slavery Bill 2018, which aims to reduce the risk of goods and services in Australia being tainted by slavery, has been introduced into the Australian Parliament. If passed 3,000 large companies and other entities will be required to publish annual public statements on their actions to address modern slavery in their supply chains and operations.

In a media statement the Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, Alex Hawke MP, stated, “large businesses will have to identify modern slavery risks in their supply chains and detail what steps they have taken, and will take, to address these risks. This Bill will enable large businesses, consumers, civil society and government to work together to eliminate modern slavery in supply chains.”
 
Australia’s Catholic bishops support the Modern Slavery Bill as a first step to eradicate the scourge of modern slavery, to uphold the human dignity of every human being. In its media release dated 2 July, the Bishops acknowledged the long-term and expert work of Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) and the Archdiocese of Sydney's Anti-Slavery task force to achieve this outcome.
 
The Catholic bishops see the legislation as a first step in national efforts against slavery, with further work needed to establish an independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner with the resources to dove efforts to eradicate modern slavery and hold large organisations accountable and to introduce human rights due diligence on all public sector procurement.
 
"Human dignity is the dignity unique to human beings and the basis of all human rights," said Archbishop Mark Coleridge. "This human dignity is possessed by each and every human being, irrespective of their age, sex, race, abilities, or any other quality. Slavery destroys that dignity."

In international news, the 2018 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report has been released by US Secretary of State, Michael R Pompeo, who said, “Modern slavery has no place in the world, and I intend to ensure, through diplomatic engagement and increased action, that the United States government’s leadership in combating this global threat is sustained in the years to come.”

ACRATH stated that the 2018 report highlights some of the elements of an effective community-based approach, the challenges in implementing such initiatives, and the opportunities national governments have to facilitate coordination, cooperation, and responsibility-sharing with and between local governments and communities.

Topics of special interest in the report include Child Institutionalization and Human Trafficking, How Governments Address Domestic Servitude in Diplomatic Households, Promising Practices in the Eradication of Trafficking in Persons: Tracking Suspicious Financial Flows and Implementing a Trauma-Informed Approach.

The report names ten “TIP Heroes” and also includes country narratives, which give an outline of what is being done to prevent human trafficking, to protect those who have been trafficked and to prosecute the traffickers, within their own contexts.

Recommendations are also provided to assist countries in fulfilling their obligations under the Palermo Protocol.
 




 
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