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British Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to crack down on the “abhorrent trade” of human trafficking. Elaborating on the 2015 Modern Slavery Act, which passed into law in March, Cameron confirmed that the new measures will compel companies with turnovers of £36 million or greater to publish an annual slavery and human-trafficking statement starting in October. According to the Prime Minister’s office, the statement must describe the steps a business has taken—if any—to ensure that its supply chains are free of slavery and human-trafficking activity. Downing Street estimates that the new rule will affect 12,000 U.K. companies.
“The scourge of modern slavery has no place in today’s society and I am proud of all that Britain is doing to wipe it out,” Cameron said in a statement ahead of his arrival in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Thursday. “Later this week, new measures will come into force in the U.K. to provide greater protection and compensation for victims and to make sure that those responsible face tougher sanctions. But there is still much more to do.”
Cameron is the first serving British prime minister to visit Vietnam, which ranks among the top five source countries for victims of modern slavery with Albania, Nigeria, Romania, and the United Kingdom.
“It is shocking that thousands of Vietnamese children in the U.K. are being used for profit by criminal gangs and that dozens more children are estimated to arrive on our shores every month,” Cameron added. “That’s why it’s so important that we work with Vietnam to identify what more we can do to tackle this issue together.”
“We are all tied up in the webs that ultimately have forced labor and slavery within them,” he said.
Still, the legislation isn’t without its shortfalls. For one thing, it doesn’t affect the overseas subsidiaries of U.K. companies.
“The Modern Slavery Act is a modest step forward in tackling modern slavery in Britain, but it is by no means the end of the road,” McQuade said in a statement earlier this year. “The loophole in the supply chain clause will allow British companies hide their supply chains overseas as long as the goods they produce don’t end up in Britain,”