Next step in international work to end modern day slavery

The Government is seeking feedback on the prospect of New Zealand becoming a party to the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Forced Labour Protocol, Workplace Relations and Safety, and Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway announced today.

“New Zealand is playing its part in international work to end forced labour and modern-day slavery. These crimes are serious breaches of human and labour rights that must be eliminated. They encompass a wide range of exploitative practices such as people trafficking, debt bondage and passport confiscation by employers, which are the subject of growing domestic and international concern,” says Mr Lees-Galloway.

“Sadly, New Zealand is not untouched by these crimes. In the last 10 years, there were three people trafficking prosecutions in New Zealand relating to at least 40 victims of trafficking, mostly for the purpose of labour exploitation. Eliminating migrant exploitation in the workplace is a Government priority and becoming party to the Forced Labour Protocol is one more step we can take in this work.

New Zealand is already party to two ILO Conventions that provide a framework for the elimination of forced labour: the Forced Labour Convention (No. 29) and the Abolition of Forced Labour Convention (No. 105).

“The Forced Labour Protocol provides guidance on how to eliminate all forms of forced labour, punish offenders and protect victims. It updates and supplements the ILO convention and explicitly recognises modern forms of trafficking for forced labour.

“While our laws and practices are largely aligned with the Protocol, becoming party to it would send a clear message of the importance New Zealand places on tackling forced labour and other forms of modern slavery. It would also align with Government initiatives currently underway to address people trafficking, forced labour and migrant exploitation more broadly.

The discussion paper is available from today on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s website. It seeks public views on changes needed before ratification; issues or costs – which are expected to be minimal - if we did ratify it; and support for New Zealand becoming party to the Protocol.

Public consultation will be open until 14 April 2019 and the discussion doc can be found:
https://www.mbie.govt.nz/have-your-say/should-new-zealand-ratify-the-forced-labour-protocol