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Article

16 Mar 2021

Author:
Louisa Cleave & Paula Penfold, Stuff

Push for law to stop products from forced labour being sold in NZ

16 March 2021

The Government is being urged to legislate to stop products made using forced labour from making their way onto New Zealand shelves.

Some of New Zealand’s largest retailers – including The Warehouse Group, Kathmandu, and Macpac – are involved in the push.

The campaign comes as New Zealand’s Uyghur community accuses the Government of failing to act on horrific human rights abuses in China.

Dozens of household goods – from clothing to electronics, cars and appliances – have been linked to the forced labour of Uyghur people in China.

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It is estimated that up to 2 million Uyghurs have been detained in prisons and detention centres as part of a brutal crackdown on the ethnic minority in Xinjiang province.

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Modern slavery legislation would bring New Zealand in line with countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia, although those countries have gone further by drafting laws to specifically stop the importation of goods from Xinjiang and those found using forced Uyghur labour in other parts of China.

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Trade Aid, World Vision, and Australian human rights organisation Walk Free will today hand the Government a letter signed by 85 New Zealand businesses calling for action.

The Warehouse Group chief product officer Tania Benyon said New Zealand needed to keep pace with the rest of the world in ensuring greater transparency and action around modern slavery.

“New Zealanders want to know that overseas workers who make their products are treated fairly. Introducing modern slavery legislation in New Zealand will encourage businesses to work collaboratively to raise standards and stamp out modern slavery from supply chains.”

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