ZB

Experts call for commissioner to address modern slavery

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 2 May 2022, 11:10am
In April, the Government announced an anti-slavery initiative and financial adviser Dr Pushpa Wood said the new proposals should help expose abuse. (Photo / 123rf)
In April, the Government announced an anti-slavery initiative and financial adviser Dr Pushpa Wood said the new proposals should help expose abuse. (Photo / 123rf)

Experts call for commissioner to address modern slavery

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 2 May 2022, 11:10am

Leading experts have made several recommendations on proposed modern slavery legislation in a newly released discussion paper.

To ensure the legislation to address modern slavery in New Zealand is suitable the authors of An opportunity for impact: recommendations for regulating modern slavery in supply chains in Aotearoa New Zealand have outlined 10 recommendations.

They include a public register to record compliance, financial penalties, mandatory reporting for all entities, and the establishment of an Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

In early April the Government launched a public consultation on legislation to address modern slavery.

Rebekah Armstrong, author and spokeswoman, said it was important to get the legislation right the first time.

"We have a unique opportunity as a nation to design and implement a regulatory system that is set it up for success. The recommendations outlined in this paper are unique to New Zealand's geopolitical and cultural context, but they also recognise international developments.

"This is a chance to design legislation that truly works in the national context and that serves the purpose at the heart of such law: to prevent and address the exploitation of people and communities."

She said it was crucial that all of the recommendations are in order to address the challenge that is modern slavery.

The other recommendations include:

  • Applying law to address modern slavery to businesses of all sizes; government; and the not-for-profit sector.
  • Introducing mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence.
  • Requiring transparency in both domestic and international supply chains.
  • Compulsory reporting criteria.
  • Establishing a public register to publish compliance statements
  • Creating an Anti-Slavery Commissioner for Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Introducing financial penalties and exclusion from public tender and public listing for entities that fail to comply with modern slavery law.

Armstrong believes recommendations will allow businesses with good practices to develop while ensuring those that ignore or indulge in modern slavery are held accountable.

"As supply chain management is evolving, companies and non-government organisations have an opportunity to work closely together to understand the nuances of modern slavery at a local level, and develop more integrated, sector-wide insights and solutions which are driven by workers' perspectives.

"This will help mitigate workers' increased vulnerability to exploitation," Armstrong said.

The paper's authors are also urging businesses and other interested stakeholders to participate in the Government's public consultation process on the proposed law which runs until June 7, 2022.
"We want this law to have maximum impact, to align with Kiwi business values, and to ensure that freedom, fairness, and dignity is entrenched in the operations and supply chains of all companies in Aotearoa New Zealand."