Move To Outlaw Slavery and Forced Labour In UK

July 08, 2009
Law Central, timesonline

Servitude and forced labour would becomes offences in the UK under an amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill to be debated tomorrow.

Sir Ken Macdonald, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, and Helen Mountfield, both of Matrix Chambers, have provide a legal opinion that there is a gap in existing law which is likely to place Britain in breach of its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Liberty and Anti-Slavery International are pushing the change to stop cases of servitude and forced labour falling through this gap. Liberty is acting for a woman recently held in modern slavery in Britain: she managed to evade her captors and complain to police, but nothing was done to investigate her case.

Sir Ken said: “We do not imagine that any politician, of any party, would consider it unnecessary to have in place penal legislation which complies with the UK’s obligations under article four of the European Convention of Human Rights and which provides redress to victims, and penalties for perpetrators, of so grave a crime of abuse and oppression.”

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: “In an age when new criminal offences have flown out of Westminster like confetti, the lack of an effective anti-slavery law is a gaping hole in the protection of the vulnerable. We urge Parliamentarians of all stripes to join together in supporting this amendment and honouring the tradition of William Wilberforce.”

Posted by Frances Gibb on July 8, 2009 in criminal law , Human Rights