Corporate Legal Accountability Quarterly Bulletin - Issue 21, September 2016

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Published on: 13 September 2016

Welcome to our Corporate Legal Accountability Quarterly Bulletin -- highlighting a specific topic each quarter, as well as key developments in corporate legal accountability. The Corporate Legal Accountability hub on our website provides objective, concise information about lawsuits against companies in which human rights abuses are alleged...

Quarterly Highlight: Holding companies accountable for modern slavery...Modern slavery has burst into the spotlight with revelations of brutal forced labour in fishing supply chains in Asia, and appalling restrictions on workers’ freedoms in the Persian Gulf, particularly in the construction sector.  New laws, such as the UK Modern Slavery Act and the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, seek to improve transparency in companies’ supply chains.  They are disclosure requirements, and do not include penalties or other accountability mechanisms for companies that do profit from forced labour.  Still, many advocates in this space see them as a vital initial legal requirement for transparency.  Early successes by plaintiffs in a few cases, and other cases that are pending, are a strong signal to companies that there is increasing liability risk of failing to exercise due diligence on modern slavery issues in their supply chains.  To increase victims’ access to justice, organizations such as Freedom Fund and the Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center, which provides assistance to victims, have highlighted the need to use strategic litigation to hold companies accountable for modern slavery. On-going cases...have shown the potential of strategic litigation...The lack of remedies available in many regions including the Gulf, and the lack of enforceability mechanisms under laws such as the Modern Slavery Act raise a crucial question: what are the possibilities for victims of modern slavery to access remedy, and what can advocates do to help them obtain justice?...

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