Australians like to think of themselves as giving everyone a fair go ... but as this article reveals Government, business and consumers need to take action if migrant and seasonal workers are to get a fair-go.
Much of the human trafficking in the seafood industry in SE Asia is with migrant workers. The trade is in human beings and the currency is hope. Most of these people come from poverty crushing realities and are looking for a better life, or looking to how they might make some money to take home or send back to their families – so they can have a better life. If they get trapped and trafficked, it not only makes it very difficult to live with, but it also makes it difficult to go back home.
Thailand has over 2mil migrant workers with 80% of those coming from Myanmar. In the fishing industry, the largest group affected by slavery in the seafood industry are people from Myanmar. Sompong Srakaew founded the Labour Rights Promotion Network (LPN) in 2006 because of the injustices he saw in the treatment of migrant workers in Thailand’s seafood processing industry. Sompong began working on migrant worker issues as early as the 1990s, after graduating with a degree in social work.
Yesterday we discussed where trafficking happens, the contributing factors that give rise to the exploitation and the resulting impact. Today we explored the challenges and devised roadmaps for addressing them.
Breaking into specific areas of expertise for in-depth discussion, collectively we looked at the different avenues for disrupting human trafficking:
Today took a very different approach to the last two days. The morning kicked off with a reminder from STOP THE TRAFFIK’s Carolyn and Fuzz Kitto of the upmost importance of working together and helping one another to fulfil the role each of us has in the fight against human trafficking. Each stakeholder has a responsibility to support and empower other stakeholders to ensure everyone is able to play their specific part in a broad, complex picture that none of us can complete alone.
Fourteen migrant workers are facing up to one and a half year of imprisonment and/or fines of up to 30,000 Thai baht (US$900) for criminal defamation and other charges brought by Thammakaset Co. Ltd. The workers allege that the company seriously violated their rights. Migrant rights activist Andy Hall also faces criminal defamation charges related to the case. The use of defamation laws to go after investigators and workers seeking to document how companies in Thailand violate national labor laws and workers’ rights has a chilling impact on research into corporate supply chains.
STOP THE TRAFFIK is one of 87 organisations who have written to the Prime Minister of Thailand on this matter. You can read the letter at this link http://bit.ly/2yWh7Jt
The first Asia Region Anti-Trafficking Conference is underway. 200 people from 17 countries.
Chad Dai’s Helen Sworn opened the event with the reminder that the coming days are an opportunity to learn from one another, to share how we have succeeded and where we failed in the fight against human trafficking. At the core of the opening evening was the reiteration of the importance of collaboration and partnership. Alone, no single body will end human trafficking. Only together do we stand the chance of making change happen.
The Australian Parliament is undertaking an Inquiry into Human Organ Trafficking and Organ Transplant Tourism. The questions for the Inquiry are whether current Australian Organ Trafficking should have extraterritorial application, that is whether laws should apply to Australian's when they are overseas. It is also looking at whether Australia should accede to a Council of Europe Convention.
You might not be aware that there has actually been an instance of this crime in Australia. With a growing aging population the possibility of increasing numbers of Australian's going overseas for organ transplants is very real.
The United Nations defines trafficking in persons as
‘the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people through the use of threats, force, coercion, abduction, fraud or deception, for the purpose of exploitation.’
Slavery is defined internationally as
the condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised, including where such a condition results from a debt or contract made by the person.'
These definitions form the basis of the Australian crimes of human trafficking and slavery in the Commonwealth Criminal Code.
On Wednesday, 15 February 2017 the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, asked the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade to inquire into and report on Establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia.Submissions supporting such an Act were invited from the public. 185 individuals, organisations and businesses made submissions including STOP THE TRAFFIK and other like-minded groups. A series of public hearings has commenced, offering an opportunity for any interested person to hear summaries of these submissions followed by a brief Q and A between the presenters of their submission summaries and the Senators on the committee.
On Wednesday, 15 February 2017, the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, asked the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade to inquire into and report on establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia. Both modern slavery on Australian shores and offshore slavery fall within the scope of the inquiry. This blog examines the need and purpose of an Australian Modern Slavery Act in relation to offshore modern slavery.
‘When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.’ This is one of Antonie Fountain from the VOICE Network’s favourite sayings. For a long time we have said that certification systems such as Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ offer external verification against international standards that best practices are being upheld and they have been the best tools we have. Everyone acknowledges that they are not perfect and that they can’t do everything but they have been the best we have had.
These are the questions we keep getting asked? Our A Matter of Taste Report is researched and written to help you answer these questions. The reality is the scene has changed and in some cases the chocolate companies are actually doing more to end human trafficking and child labour than some of the certification schemes.