This publication highlights Commonwealth government action, and inaction, to tackle modern slavery. In 2018, Commonwealth governments committed to achieve Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7. Two years on, this report finds that progress has been slow and concrete action is urgently needed to achieve this target by 2030. This report is the result of a partnership of Walk Free and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI).
Urgent action is needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7 and the eradication of modern slavery by 2030
A review of 54 Commonwealth government responses reveals that a lack of legislation across many states undermines attempts to deter and convict perpetrators of modern slavery. Almost a fifth of countries have yet to criminalise human trafficking, while two-thirds have failed to make forced marriage illegal. The effectiveness of criminal justice systems across the Commonwealth continues to be compromised by weak enforcement of this legislation. Restrictive immigration policies also facilitates coercion and prevents workers from leaving an exploitative employer. Discrimination, including harmful traditional practices, plays a significant role in exacerbating the vulnerability of groups to exploitation — for example, caste-based discrimination in India, the exclusion of the Rohingya population from accessing some services in Bangladesh, and the widespread criminalisation of homosexuality across the African region.
Walk Free and CHRI call for modern slavery to be set firmly on the agenda for the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), and for member states to commit to launch a major initiative to combat modern slavery and protect those who are most vulnerable.