Global slavery survey finds cleansing supply chains a problem

Friday, 2 May 2014 21:32 GMT

Some of the more than 1,000 laborers found living in slave-like conditions on a Brazilian sugar cane plantation after being freed by members of the government's anti-slavery team on July 4, 2007. REUTERS/Paulo Santos

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Countries said they made progress in areas such as public awareness and victim support services, but found cleansing slavery from supply chains challenging

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation ) – Cleansing slavery from business supply chains in the public and private sectors is one of the greatest challenges countries face in combating modern-day slavery, a new survey from the Walk Free Foundation has found.

In a six-month progress report on its Global Slavery Index, which was first released last October, the Australian-based foundation said that less than half of the 30 countries that responded to its 17-question survey said they had regulations in place to discourage investors from dealing with businesses that use slavery in their supply chains, or laws and policies to encourage businesses to remove slavery from their supply chains. Governments also were asked if they had regulations cleansing slavery from their own supply chains.

Only a handful of countries answered positively to all three questions on supply chains, including Australia, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Jordan and Norway, it said.

However, the response rate to its survey was weak. Only 30 governments replied out of the 167 nations queried. The results are intended to contribute to the next edition of Walk Free’s Global Slavery Index, which ranks slavery in countries around the world and is due to be released again in October 2014.

The government assessments, introduced this year, will form only part of the final 2014 index rankings on the prevalence of slavery and actions to combat it in individual countries. The foundation also uses its own research, surveys of non-governmental groups, in-country experts and publicly available reports and information.

“Modern slavery is a hidden crime and difficult to measure. By engaging directly with governments, we are able to ascertain exactly what they are doing to combat the problem, which will more accurately inform our overall positioning of countries in the index,” said Fiona David, executive director of global research at the foundation, in a statement.

The majority of respondents said they had made progress on public awareness campaigns, victim support services and had effective legislation against slavery in place, the foundation said.

Respondents included Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Israel, Jordan, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Taiwan, Uganda and the United States. 

For the first time, the foundation also listed how much money 12 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries have spent, on average, to fight modern slavery between 2003 and 2012.

The United States spent the most at $68.7 million and Finland the least at $200,000.  In between were Norway at $12.7 million; Japan at $11.1 million; Australia at $7.7 million; the Netherlands at $6.5 million; the United Kingdom at $5 million; Sweden at $4.3 million; Canada at $3.4 million; France at $1.8 million; Germany at $1.15 million and Austria at $1.13 million.

The index employs an expert working group that has met every six months to consult and provide feedback on methodology.  Their next meeting will be in July, the foundation said.

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