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The ripple effect: New draft Modern Slavery Bill under discussion for Hong Kong

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Summary: A new draft bill is expected to be considered this week by a panel of Hong Kong policy lawmakers as part of broader discussion on human trafficking. The draft seeks to criminalise all forms of human trafficking and, if enacted, will bring Hong Kong into line with other countries such as the UK, the US and potentially Australia this year in making corporates accountable for responsible business practices in their supply chains.

A draft members’ bill to be discussed shortly by the Hong Kong legislature (the “Draft Modern Slavery Bill 2017”) creates new criminal and civil offences relating to trafficking, including slavery, human trafficking, forced marriage and sex tourism; it also includes a proposal requiring certain companies to publish a “slavery and human trafficking statement”, closely modelled along the lines of the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015. The Bill also contains further proposals providing potential claimants with a civil cause of action in tort against any person who has committed an offence, under the Bill, against them; or knowingly benefited, financially or by receiving anything of value from participation in a venture which that person knew or should have known has engaged in an act which is prohibited under the Bill. These causes of action potentially extend the ambit and power of the Bill beyond not only the current UK Modern Slavery Act but the scope of proposed modern slavery legislation which is expected to be adopted in Australia this year and accordingly may raise standards further for businesses managing global supply chains through harmonised risk management approaches and systems.

Read our analysis of the Draft Modern Slavery Bill 2017.

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