An accomplished human rights advocate and legal expert, Peter Talibart is a pioneer and renowned leader in lobbying for and influencing the design of legislation oriented against modern day slavery. Mr. Talibart has provided formal expert evidence to the Parliaments of both the United Kingdom and Canada on draft modern slavery laws. Recently, his evidence provided to the United Kingdom parliament was quoted and cited in the recently passed Australian Modern Slavery Statute. In addition to having led some of the largest and most complex employment law projects in the world, Mr. Talibart is also a popular global lecturer on international employment law issues. He is the Co-Chair of the Employment Law Committee of the International Bar Association.
In a recent interview with CHTCS, Mr. Talibart noted that many companies are still not taking the 2015 Modern Slavery Act (MSA) obligations to publish a slavery avoidance statement on their website seriously enough. Just recently, he again provided evidence to the subcommittee of the UK Parliament looking at the impact of the MSA. “If a country just wants to pay lip service to this issue, it’s easy to pass a law that has almost no consequence but allows that country to tick the box that it has done so. That is what almost happened in the UK, and many think the current law has insufficient teeth. But if you want to help business to align against modern slavery, you have to pass moderate and proportional laws and actually enforce them. Nobody is in favor of modern slavery and business is ready for a good law that does not make it responsible for risks it cannot always control.” Mr. Talibart advised the UK government in 2015 that if it took the lead on such an issue, this would encourage other countries to follow suit. Recent history has proved him right.
A movement by the Slave Free Campaign has spurred anti-human trafficking action in the Hong Kong business world. In an effort to work in tandem with businesses, not against them, the Slave Free Campaign according to founder Julie Lim, “…aims to integrate human rights into business practices in order to eliminate labor trafficking in global supply chains.” The assumption by Lim is that most retail brands don’t understand what is happening in their factories operating in remote areas by middlemen. In auxiliary to the Slave Free Campaigns movement, Judge Zervos of the High Court of Hong Kong, recently made judgement highlighting the government’s failure to implement a comprehensive system of legislation and training covering slavery in all its forms. Both the Slave Free Campaign and High Court’s actions are ancillary to the increasing criticism from outside Hong Kong for a lack of action against human trafficking. The U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report downgraded Hong Kong from Tier 2 to Tier 2 Watch List last year, and the United Nations CESCR Humans Rights Committee has persistently reported the high level of trafficking in Hong Kong, China. All of these efforts have justified a need for change in Hong Kong’s policy against human-trafficking.
In February, a Consumer class action lawsuit was filed by consumer Danell Tomasell in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts against Nestlé USA and in March, a second consumer class action lawsuit against Mars Inc. and Mars Chocolate North America LLC. The woman alleges the chocolatiers deceived consumers by failing to adequately inform consumers that child labor was involved in the cocoa beans used in the defendants’ products. According to the complaints, the defendant’s chocolate products are made from cocoa beans from West Africa. Both suits argue that had consumers known the products may contain cocoa procured from child or slave labor, they would not have purchased the products. The consumer class action lawsuits seeks judgment against the defendants, awarding plaintiff and the class all appropriate damages including trebling, attorneys’ fees, costs, interest, and further relief to be determined. Similar failed Consumer class action cases against Nestlé USA , Hershey and Mars Inc. were thrown out of court in 2016.
International law has been a powerful medium for defining, preventing, protecting, prosecuting, and partnering against human trafficking world-wide. A set of eight international protocols and/or conventions are fundamental for countries to develop a national plan and display progress in anti-trafficking efforts. Meeting the minimum standard is demonstrated through legislation, prosecutions, and protection of victims as deemed necessary by the following relevant international conventions:
The annual Stop Slavery Award was awarded to four winners at the 2017 Trust Conference. The award was led by Adidas with additional recognition as an “Outstanding Achiever” for excelling in every judging category. The international fashion retailer C&A was awarded for going beyond compliance standards in all categories. Through the “Bright Future” program, The Co-operative Group offers employment opportunities for victims of modern day slavery and was honored for having excelled in business partnership engagement and for having demonstrated excellence in supplier engagement and capacity building. The major U.S. technology company, Intel Corporation, was awarded for its outstanding work in demonstrating and implementing innovation across its programs against child sexual exploitation and refusing new business to suppliers who have failed to implement measures to combat slavery.
The Stop Slavery Award was launched by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The initiative recognizes companies that have taken concrete steps to eradicate forced labor from their supply chains. Short-listed nominee candidate companies included: Aldi UK, Barclays Bank Plc, CH2M, Fortescue Metals Group, Marks & Spencer, Marshall Plc, MGM China Holdings Ltd, Nestle’ S.A., Shiva Hotels, Waitrose, and Walmart Stores, Inc.
Every successful supply chain program has a designated third-party assessor providing due diligence to both the supplier and the buyer. In the case of the Fair Food Program (FFP), the Fair Food Standards Council (FFSC) is charged with monitoring participating growers’ operations for compliance with the Fair Food Code of Conduct. Unlike other social responsibility programs however, FFSC operates in the unique structure created by the Coalition of Immokalee Worker Fair Food Program agreements, with their emphasis on worker participation and effective market consequences for non-compliance.
In a face-to-face interview, CHTCS discussed the cause and effect of FFSC’s role in the supply chain with the Executive Director Judge Laura Safer-Espinoza (retired), Director of Development Lindsay Adams and Associate Director Matthew Wooten.
Sean Sellers is the Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Worker-driven Social Responsibility (WSR) Network. Prior to joining WSR Network staff, Sean spent nearly fifteen years supporting the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) efforts to improve labor conditions in U.S. agriculture. From 2003 to 2010, Sean worked in several capacities on the Campaign for Fair Food. In 2011, his work pivoted to the implementation of the Fair Food Program (FFP) across the Florida tomato industry and beyond. Sean was a founding staff member of the Fair Food Standards Council (FFSC), the program’s third-party monitor, where he worked as a senior investigator until 2016. Sean has a BS and MA from the University of Texas at Austin.
Theresa Haas is the Director of Outreach and Education at the Worker-driven Social Responsibility (WSR) Network. Prior to joining WSR Network staff, Theresa served as the Director of Communications for the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent labor rights monitoring organization, which works to protect and defend the rights of workers who make clothing and other consumer goods. While at the WRC, she helped to develop and launch the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a legally-binding agreement between workers and apparel brands to make factories safe. She is a graduate of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University.