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30 Jun 2021

Anti-Slavery International

Report analyses potential impact of EU mHREDD laws on labour exploitation & forced labour across global supply chains

"EU law. Global impact. A report considering the potential impact of human rights due diligence laws on labour exploitation and forced labour.", June 2021

Labour exploitation is defined as a continuum that ranges from poor labour and employment practices to more extreme forms of exploitation amounting to forced labour. This rapid research and scoping paper outlines how defining labour exploitation as a continuum promotes efforts to tackle forced labour by addressing the whole range of labour violations which can lead to extreme exploitation. It is important to consider the needs and interests of workers, communities, trade unions and NGOs in producer countries, and to reflect these in the development of policy and law that acts to address forced labour.

This paper outlines the critical role that these stakeholders must play in the proposed framework for EU mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence (mHREDD) and calls for their greater involvement in the ongoing debate in order to develop meaningful law. Specifically, the research centres around two case studies of high-risk forced labour contexts in EU private sector supply chains: Brazil’s coffee industry and India’s leather industry. To assess the potential impact of EU mHREDD on labour rights in producer countries, this report offers an evidence and legal review of business and human rights, labour violations, and access to remedy and justice in these contexts.

In doing so, it makes recommendations for what is needed at local, national and international level to ensure that the law is effective in addressing forced labour, and proposes initiatives at local and national levels to enable this. While recognising the intricate relationship between labour exploitation and environmental damage that cuts across sectors worldwide, this report limits its scope to labour exploitation.

This report makes recommendations targeted at the European Commission, producer country governments, national and international NGOs, companies and donors to ensure effectiveness of the proposed EU law. It is hoped that these recommendations will inspire further dialogue on how to make sure the proposed EU mHREDD framework is meaningful for workers, communities, trade unions and NGOs in producer countries...