01 February 2018
Nichols demands action on 'most evil' crime of slavery
The Cardinal said: 'Politicians, both local and national, need to ensure this most evil of crimes is made a priority.'
The fight against human trafficking is being lost because the “collective response is uncoordinated and fragmented”, the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols has warned. Writing the forword to a report that was launched in the Westminster parliament on Tuesday, as part of The Independent and Evening Standard newspapers' “Slaves On Our Streets” campaign, Cardinal Nichols described modern slavery as an evil crying out to heaven: “There are more slaves today than at the height of the Atlantic slave trade in the 18th century. And the number is growing as international criminal gangs increase their influence and reach.”
The report is the culmination of a three-month investigation by the Evening Standard and The Independent, in partnership with the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland. As part of the investigation, Cardinal Nichols convened a round table of experts from business, media, law, finance, philanthropy, law enforcement and victim support. Their recommendations will be put forward at the Santa Marta conference at the Santa Marta Conference due to take place in Rome at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences from 8 – 9 February.
The report calls on the government to put victim support on a statutory footing, saying long-term support for victims is the key to “breaking the cycle of slavery and should be available irrespective of immigration status”. It says the likelihood of modern slavery in supply chains is high and sanctions should be enforced and that companies should see compliance in this area as equivalent to other sustainability goals. There’s a recommendation for companies to band together “to have greater clout” and for consumers “to vote with their purses and support brands associated with ethical supply chains”. The report also calls for modern slavery to become a coordinated national policing priority.
Cardinal Nichols urged banks and the City to recognise the problem of money laundering and ensure organised crime is traced and halted and for local government to identify and crack down on those local businesses, such as nail bars and car washes, which are often places of modern slavery: “Politicians, both local and national, need to ensure this most evil of crimes is made a priority.”
File photo using a posed model of a woman sheltering looking scared on a bed. Modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK is much more prevalent than previously thought, with cases affecting every large town and city in the country, the National Crime Agency said last year. Picture by: Paul Faith/PA Wire/PA Images
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