Protecting workers’ rights is key to preventing modern slavery. And a significant proportion of workers’ rights in the UK stem from EU law, warns a July 2017 briefing (pdf) by the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group.
Likewise, many of the UK’s prevention and prosecution methods rely on European mechanisms, such as Europol and Eurojust. In leaving the European Union, Britain “risks jeopardising the progress made
domestically in tackling modern slavery and protecting its victims.”
The briefing reviews how far the UK’s EU membership has influenced national anti-trafficking efforts, and how Brexit may impact our ability to combat modern slavery and protect victims.
Key recommendations include:
- The UK Government must pursue access to European criminal justice and security measures to the greatest extent possible, and continue to prioritise law enforcement co-operation as part of the Brexit negotiations
- To the extent that it allows such continued cooperation, the UK must accept some measure of the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the EU
- Prior to the UK exiting the EU, primary legislation must be introduced which transposes the rights of victims to support and assistance, as detailed in the EU Trafficking Directive, into domestic law in England and Wales
- The UK Government should introduce primary legislation which transposes EU labour law that protects worker’s rights
- The UK Government must undertake an impact assessment for any new proposed law and policy related to immigration to assess its likely impact on efforts to tackle modern slavery, including whether migrants will be made more vulnerable to exploitation because of these changes, and/or less willing/able to seek protection and justice should they suffer abuse.