Tag Archives: Modern slavery

Modern slavery and the media: What we don’t know can hurt us

This piece was originally published by René Cassin. Who has read about John Lewis and Habitat’s decision to stop selling a range of granite worktops over worries that slaves played a part in making them? When the news broke early this month, only The Guardian and The Metro gave it airtime. An imbalance is hardening in the British media. What the public knows about modern slavery relates overwhelmingly to the prosecution and conviction of criminals. But that’s only a fraction of the story – and, when it comes to slavery, what we don’t know really can hurt us. The more mugshots fill front pages, the harder it is to see the bigger picture. For newspapers chasing headlines, supply chains and victim protection rarely fit the bill. At the centre of Britain’s problem with slavery, though, are the hidden tentacles of networks that reach well beyond our borders. Modern slavery is as much about the businesses and …

Freedom – or Freefall?

This piece was originally published as a blog post by René Cassin.   Imagine that everything is taken away from you. Forget your job. Forget your income, too. You have no home and no family you know how to contact. Imagine that you have 45 days to rebuild. And the clock is ticking. For former slaves, this isn’t merely a thought experiment. Last year, over 3,800 people went through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for victims of modern slavery. The government offered each of them just over six weeks of support in a safe house before cutting them loose. This is the cruel reality of the UK’s current modern slavery strategy. During those 45 days of what the government calls ‘reflection and recovery’, a victim’s first task is to prove that they are indeed a victim of slavery or human trafficking. If they can’t or don’t, the clock ticks faster: they have …

Justice for the Innocent

This piece was originally published as a blog post by René Cassin.   Who is at the centre of Britain’s Modern Slavery Act: slaves or their captors? When only 4.9 per cent of the compensation awarded in such cases is passed onto victims, as The Times claimed yesterday, we can’t help but wonder. This is what happens when priorities are skewed towards criminal justice and away from community care. Legislation that has upgraded modern slavery into a serious crime has had the added effect of encouraging prosecutions at the expense of caring for victims – in this case, quite literally. Crackdowns on gangs and traffickers provide the instant gratification that long-term rehabilitation of victims does not. We’ve seen it all before, only in a different context: the war on drugs, where the capture of cartel kingpins is taken as an unequivocal sign of success. We should be concerned, because how we start …