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Commentary: French due diligence law tackles modern slavery by putting burden on companies to ensure there are no abuses in supply chains

"How the French are Tackling Modern Slavery", 24 Mar 2017

In February, the French Parliament adopted a new law establishing a duty of vigilance for businesses, requiring them to monitor their company and supply chains for human rights and environmental protection violations...This bill closely resembles the U.K. Modern Slavery Act, although the French law applies to fewer companies.  The French law does not use profits as a criterion for reporting, but instead focuses on the size of the company...Another difference is that the French law lays out specific reporting requirements—although they are not perfect.  Companies that fail to monitor themselves or publish reports can be reported...Unfortunately, this practice can bring an unfair burden of proof for victims who already face a severe imbalance of power...Despite its limitations, the French law addresses what many trafficking advocates argue is a key to combating trafficking: enlisting the private sector ensure that products imported are not made at the expense of protecting human rights...This approach may be the fastest way to reach some of the millions trapped in modern slavery...Banning these tainted goods could economically devastate companies that continue to profit from trafficked labor, forcing them to amend their ways...

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