Modern Slavery refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power . It’s a hidden crime that covers forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, slavery and slavery-like practices, and human trafficking. While it is more prevalent offshore, it is still a problem in New Zealand, with an estimated 8,000 people living in these conditions in 2021  .
Unlike many OECD countries, including key trading partners, New Zealand does not have Modern Slavery legislation. While establishing legislation is part of the challenge, ensuring it is fit for purpose is of equal importance. There are many aspects to suitable legislation, but one key piece is the inclusion of a due diligence requirement.
Due diligence requires organisations to assess, identify, prevent and remedy risks specific to modern slavery in their operations and supply chain. Numerous pieces of legislation overseas have only consisted of a disclosure requirement to date, instead of due diligence. This means a reporting entity must only disclose the actions they have taken to address the risk of exploitation in their operations and supply chain. If no action is being taken, or they do not perceive there being a risk, that is what the organisation would report.
As New Zealand’s new government settles in, this piece of legislation will be one item they consider. Alongside numerous other investors, representing funds under management of $295 billion, and two peak bodies (Investors Against Slavery & Trafficking APAC, and the Responsible Investment Association Australasia), we have written to the responsible Minister to outline our expectations that robust modern slavery legislation is enacted in New Zealand. As a late mover on this, our government has the opportunity to learn from the Australian experience in particular and create a more rigorous and effective piece of law. The sustainable, prosperous future of business and investments in New Zealand depends on it.
 As defined by Walk Free: https://www.walkfree.org/what-is-modern-slavery/
 Global Slavery Index https://www.walkfree.org/global-slavery-index/
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