The term ‘human trafficking’ describes a situation where people are recruited then subsequently threatened, forced deceived or coerced for the purposes of exploitation. Cases involving the sex industry or criminal activities such as the cultivation of drugs and illicit organ removal tend to grab newspaper headlines. Less frequently reported is the fact around a third of trafficking victims are trafficked for the purpose of providing cheap labour in more mainstream economic sectors.
According to the UN United Nations Office on Drugs and Organised Crime (UNDOC) the agriculture, horticulture, construction, garments and textiles, catering and restaurants, food processing, health care, contract cleaning and healthcare sectors are the mainstream sectors most frequently associated with the crime of human trafficking. Many of these industries are characterised by so-called ‘3 D’ work, that is to say the work involved can be dirty, difficult or dangerous.
Listed companies can be at risk of encountering human trafficking in a number of ways:
Through their supply chains, particularly where these involve agriculture, food processing or textiles.
Though the use of contract or agency workers. Workers in these situations tend to receive far fewer employment protections than permanent employees and as such are more vulnerable to exploitation.
If their services, premises or other facilities are used by traffickers. Hotels, transportation companies, tour operators, visa/travel document providers and employment agencies might inadvertently find themselves in this situation.
The recent Interfaith Centre on Corporate Responsibility investor statement on human trafficking, which has been signed by ECCR, outlines eight key steps that companies can take to address these risks.
ECCR is working with members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, Fairpensions, the Institute for Human Rights and Business and others to raise awareness of human trafficking at the 2012 Olympics. Find out more here.
Find out More
Read ‘Human Trafficking: the links to business’ in Bulletin no 83 (December 2011)
For more information about how hotel industry and human trafficking read ECCR's briefing Hotels, Sex trafficking and London 2012 (pdf) and see Anti Slavery International and the Institute for Human Rights and Business’s Staff Wanted initiative
Read ICCR's investor statement on human trafficking and slavery which has been signed by ECCR.