2018 – Time for a real modern slavery strategy?

This piece was originally published by René Cassin. Buried in last December’s early snow was a report that revealed that the Home Office’s modern slavery strategy is a strategy in name only. Over two years after the implementation of the Modern Slavery Act, this is deeply troubling. The report from the National Audit Office alleged that the Home Office is still struggling with data collection, delays and victim support. Not only have these flaws hampered its goal of ending victims’ suffering, but ineffectiveness has also led to a misguided allocation of resources. What the NAO’s report demonstrates is a lack of cohesion in central government’s approach to modern slavery. Long tagged as Prime Minister Theresa May’s flagship policy, the reality beneath the slogans is that efforts to tackle trafficking and slavery have been patchy at best. In failing to define what progress would look like, the government has left it to local authorities, NGOs and the media to …

Peace activism and criminal damage: ‘When you’re a Quaker and a Methodist minister, juries tend to acquit’

This piece was originally published by The Justice Gap. ‘We were about three metres away from the first plane when we got caught,’ says Dan Woodhouse, the Methodist minister who broke into a BAE Systems airbase this January. Along with fellow peace activist Sam Walton, Woodhouse had hoped to prevent British arms from making their way to Saudi Arabia. The pair was charged with causing £1,000 of criminal damage without a lawful excuse, but were recently acquitted at Burnley Magistrates’ Court. A district judge accepted their argument that they had acted for the greater good. Woodhouse and Walton, both experienced anti-arms activists, decided to take direct action because, in their view, they had exhausted all efforts to lobby MPs, demonstrate and sign petitions. ‘There’s a point when normal campaigning just doesn’t work because the government doesn’t want to hear it,’ Woodhouse suggests. ‘They just want to sell more weapons to Saudi. In the face …

Two Plantations: A Retrospective

  I, too, sing America. — Langston Hughes, 1945 i. Fewer than six miles apart, between two kinks in the same stretch of the Mississippi, stand two ancestors modern America would rather forget. An hour beyond the hum of New Orleans, Laura and Whitney hold the same plots they held 200 years ago. Since then, from atop the balconies of the Big Houses, the changes to this Louisiana landscape are almost imperceptible, the horizon newly busied with the occasional whizz of cars and the steadily rising levee that hides the river’s edge from view. Come, when the summer sun is at its highest and the trees cast only their slimmest shadows, as though rationing relief. In heat like this, shelter from the leaves above never seems to stretch quite far enough. “Feel free to take one,” chirps the guide at Whitney, gesturing towards the barrel of umbrellas just behind us. …