23rd August is the UN International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.
This day marks the beginning of an uprising in Santo Domingo (known today as Haiti) which played a crucial role in the abolition of the slave trade.
In one of the darkest chapters in human history, over 12 million people were trafficked in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition allows us to reflect on the tragedy of slavery and resolve to oppose all modern forms of human trafficking.
Slavery is not just a problem of history. It is a challenge of today.
The International Labour Organisation estimates that 40 million people are in modern slavery and between 2011 and 2016, 89 million people experienced some form of modern slavery – for periods ranging from a few days to five whole years.
In the UK it was estimated in 2016 by the Home Office that there are between 10,000 to 13,000 people living in modern slavery on any given day. However, the Walk Free Foundation have estimated that the actual figure is likely to be much higher at around 136,000 people. The National Crime Agency’s recent statistics show that 6,993 victims were referred to the authorities in 2018 – clearly far fewer than those estimated to be in slavery.
Concerningly, of those referred only 1,151 have received support, and the remainder were either denied or are still awaiting a decision. This leaves many people facing deprivation and homelessness, putting them at risk of being re-trafficked.
The current limit of 45 days of support to those who are confirmed victims was challenged in a judicial review by two victims. The Government conceded its 45-day policy of support for confirmed human trafficking victims is incompatible with the Trafficking Convention. In response, the Home Office has said it will develop a ‘sustainable needs-based system for supporting victims of trafficking’.
Victims need longer-term support to help them establish their lives and prevent re-trafficking. CARE is part of the Free for Good campaign, a coalition of organisations supporting Lord McColl’s Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill which would see victims guaranteed 12 months of full support. This support includes financial aid, housing, and advice – enabling victims to rebuild their lives.
Despite strong support from individuals, campaign groups, and Parliamentarians, the Government continues to stall on giving the Bill the time it needs to become law.
On this day that we remember the victims of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, please write to the Prime Minister to ask him to take action against modern slavery by backing the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill.