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Anti-Slavery Day open letter calling on UK Government to support victims of modern slavery

First published by Anti-Slavery International

Arise joined Anti-Slavery International and a coalition of human rights organisations in writing a letter that calls on the UK Government to support two proposed laws that would support victims of modern slavery. The letter – published on Anti-Slavery Day, 18 October, in the Sunday Times, calls on the government to:

  • Support the Conservative peer Lord McColl’s amendment to the Immigration and Social Security Bill, Clause 12, that would give European nationals who are confirmed victims of modern slavery the right to remain in the UK with access to support for at least 12 months; and

  • Set aside time for Parliament to consider Lord McColl’s and Iain Duncan Smith MP’s Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill, which would give ALL victims of modern slavery the right to remain in the UK with access to support for at least 12 months, to help them to begin their recovery.

Clause 12 addresses an unintended consequence of Brexit, which could leave some victims of modern slavery at risk of being sent back into the hands of their abusers. In today’s letter, the human rights organisations – including those that work directly with survivors – note that no-one wants to see this injustice. Anti-Slavery International has called on its supporters to write to MPs urging them to vote in favour of victims’ rights when they debate Clause 12 and other amendments on 19 October.

Read the letter:

Dear Editor

Last week the House of Lords amended the Immigration and Social Security Bill to prevent confirmed victims of modern slavery who are from the EU experiencing a significant reduction in their rights from 1 January. Peers voted by a majority of 101 for an amendment, introduced by the Conservative Lord McColl, in order to avoid this terrible outcome, which could have sent victims of modern slavery straight back into the hands of their abusers: an egregious unintended consequence of Brexit, which nobody wants.

Lord McColl’s modest and decent proposal will give those EU victims who meet certain criteria a limited right to remain in the UK and access public services.  Now known as Clause 12 of the amended Bill, it is up for consideration by the House of Commons on Monday 19 October – fittingly, one day after Anti-Slavery Day. Clause 12 should transcend any debate about Brexit and be seen on its own merit as the right and decent thing to do for victims of modern slavery. As Lord McColl noted when introducing the amendment, “the restoration of our sovereignty does not require us to create a situation in which the effective rights of some confirmed victims of modern slavery are diminished”.  Five and a half years after the Modern Slavery Act passed into law, we hope the Government and MPs will give Clause 12 their full support.

Clause 12 addresses a serious injustice that would affect European nationals – but all victims of modern slavery, including British nationals, need guaranteed support. That is why we are also calling on the government to make time for both Houses of Parliament to consider the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill, which would guarantee support for all victims of modern slavery following identification. This Bill, which is co-sponsored by Lord McColl and the former Conservative leader, the Rt Hon Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, has been awaiting its Second Reading in the House of Lords since January. Between the Bill and Clause 12, the Government now has two opportunities to make sure Britain can stand as a beacon for freedom from slavery. Victims are counting upon it to do the right thing. 

Yours sincerely,

Jasmine O’Connor OBE, CEO, Anti- Slavery International Nola Leach, Chief Executive, CARE Christian Guy, CEO, Justice and Care Andy Cook, CEO, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) Andrew Wallis OBE, CEO, Unseen Red Godfrey Sagoo, CEO, The Sophie Hayes Foundation Minh Dang, Director, Survivor Alliance Philip Ishola, CEO, Love 146 Kerry Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Helen Bamber Foundation Victoria Marks, Director, ATLEU Emily Chalke, Co-Director, Ella’s Karen Anstiss, Service Manager, Caritas Bakhita House Dr Julia Tomas Anti-Slavery Coordinator, The Passage Rita Gava, Director, Kalayaan Liisa Wiseman, Project Manager, Birmingham Methodist District’s Adavu Project Marissa Begonia, Director, The Voice of Domestic Workers Patrick Ryan, CEO, Hestia Nicola Lambe, Chief Executive, Ashiana Sheffield Baldish Sohal, Head of Modern Slavery Support Services, Black Country Women’s Aid Caroline O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer, Migrant Help David Westlake, CEO, IJM UK Lara Bundock, CEO, The Snowdrop Project Luke de Pulford, CEO, The Arise Foundation Garry Smith, Chief Executive, Medaille Trust Ben Cooley, CEO, Hope for Justice Caroline Virgo, Director, The Clewer Initiative Debbie Ariyo OBE, Chair BME Anti-Slavery Network (BASNET) Patricia Durr, Chief Executive, ECPAT UK Steve Murrells, Chief Executive – Co-op Group Yvonne Hall, Managing Director, Palm Cove Society Louise Gore, Equiano Project Manager, Jericho Lucila Granada, Chief Executive Officer, FLEX Kate Roberts, Chair, Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group (ATMG) Katharine Bryant, Lead of European Engagement, Walk Free Kathy Betteridge, Major. Director Anti Trafficking & Modern Slavery. The Salvation Army Peter Andrews, Head of Sustainability Policy, British Retail Consortium (BRC) Robin Brierley, Executive Director. West Midlands Anti Slavery Network Baroness Young of Hornsey Lord McColl of Dulwich Anthony Steen CBE, creator of the Bill for Anti-Slavery Day Lord John Randall of Uxbridge

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