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January 19, 2021

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Modern slavery

Government announces measures to strengthen Modern Slavery Act

Foreign Secretary announces measures that place stricter requirements on British organisations involved in exporting or sourcing goods from China’s Xinjiang region.

Dominic Raab has announced a package of measures to help ensure that British organisations, whether public or private sector, are not complicit in, nor profiting from, the human rights violations in Xinjiang.

The Government says that measures are ‘designed to send a clear signal to China that these violations are unacceptable’ and companies that don’t comply with the Modern Slavery Act will be subject to significant financial penalties and excluded by UK public bodies, with details to be set out at a later date.

The review is set to look into which UK products can be exported to Xinjiang and there will be increased support for UK public bodies to exclude businesses complicit in human rights violations from their supply chains.

Modern slavery in the supply chain

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The evidence of the scale and severity of the human rights violations being perpetrated in Xinjiang against the Uyghur Muslims is now far reaching. Today we are announcing a range of new measures to send a clear message that these violations of human rights are unacceptable, and to safeguard UK businesses and public bodies from any involvement or linkage with them.

“This package will help make sure that no British organisations, Government or private sector, deliberately or inadvertently, profit from or contribute to the human rights violations against the Uyghurs or other minorities in Xinjiang.

Home Secretary Priti Patel added: “Britain will always stand up for those suffering dreadful human rights abuses and today we are bringing forward measures which will help protect the minority populations in Xinjiang.

“Businesses and public bodies must be more vigilant than ever before and ensure they are not inadvertently allowing forced labour in their supply chains.”

Alcumus, which helps UK businesses to identify and mitigate Modern Slavery risks across their supply chains, has welcomed the action. Helen Jones, Chief Operating Officer Enterprise at Alcumus said: “The new measures are a much needed and welcome step forward that reinforces the need for UK businesses to take action to protect victims and make sure companies actively audit, investigate and reduce exploitation within their supply chains.”

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