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.