US politicians propose transparency law on supply chain slavery

5 August 2015

Large US public companies will have to say what measures they have taken to remove labour abuses from their supply chains, under proposed new legislation.

The Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2015 would requires public companies with over $100 million in global gross receipts to disclose any measures to prevent human trafficking, slavery and child labour in their supply chains as part of their annual reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The bill was introduced by congress members Carolyn Maloney and Chris Smith, as the State Department published its 2015 Trafficking in Persons report, which stressed the need for governments to “set clear expectations for businesses on human rights issues and adopt policies that promote greater transparency and better reporting on anti-trafficking efforts in supply chains”.

Maloney said the bill was a good first step to improving transparency and informing consumers.

“There is no question that many goods being sold to American consumers are produced with slave labour, and we have a moral obligation to do something about it,” she said. “This legislation simply requires businesses to publicly disclose what actions they have voluntarily undertaken to remove labour abuses from their supply chains.

Smith, author of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, said some companies may participate knowingly in human trafficking, while others were wilfully ignorant, and still others simply do not know how their products were made.

“The bottom line is there is no excuse for a company’s complicity or ignorance in the suffering endured by human trafficking victims hidden away in the supply chain,” he said. “It is not enough for a company to say they are unaware of human trafficking in their product line. Consumers and Congress want to know that companies are actively taking steps to ensure there are no connections between human trafficking victims and their business products and services.”

The public will be able to access the information via the SEC and company websites, and the bill is also intended to create more market competition to improve how businesses identify and address slavery and human trafficking in supply chains.

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