Freedom United calls on U.K. government to pass corporate accountability laws

Freedom United and our partners have submitted a letter to the U.K. government calling for the passage of mandatory human rights and due diligence laws. By now, there is more than enough evidence that systemic human rights abuses and environmentally destructive practices are commonplace in the global operations and supply chains of U.K. businesses.

In the face of what we all know, we think that it’s time for the U.K. to stop waiting on businesses to hold themselves accountable for human rights violations.

Our letter notes that,

The UK was the first country to develop a ‘Business and Human Rights National Action Plan’ based on the UNGPs and one of the first to pass a domestic supply chain law, in the form of S.54 of the Modern Slavery Act. However, it is now widely accepted the S.54 is not fit for purpose to prevent forced labour abuses and modern slavery in supply chains – against the backdrop of the G7, led by the UK, explicitly committing to eradicate “the use of all forms of forced labour in global supply chains”.

The Guardian reports that government representatives said, “We actively encourage businesses to do their due diligence and identify, prevent and account for potential risks in their operations and throughout their supply chain relationships.”

However, this is the problem. Current methods of “encouragement” do not get the job done. If the U.K. enacted mandatory human rights due diligence legislation, companies would be required to take preventative measures to ensure their supply chains and workplaces were free of modern slavery.

Mark Dearn, director of our partner, the Corporate Justice Coalition, told the Guardian that,

“The UK portrays itself as a leader on business and human rights, but this simply isn’t true. There are no UK laws to hold corporations liable for human rights abuses and the Modern Slavery Act doesn’t guarantee that supply chains are free from modern slavery. Meanwhile, countries around Europe are creating new laws that will go far beyond any obligation placed on UK companies.”

While we agree with Dearn, we think the E.U. has a long way to go regarding its legislation as well.

Join Freedom United’s campaign to call on governments to put people before profits by calling on the U.S., U.K., and E.U. to pass mandatory human rights due diligence legislation.

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