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HK pushes for UK-style anti-slavery law

By REUTERS
April 27, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: Hong Kong should introduce a law that will stamp out human trafficking and stop illegal profits passing through the financial hub, a lawmaker who is spearheading an anti-slavery campaign has urged.

Since 2016, Hong Kong has been placed by the US State Department on the second-lowest ranking in its annual Trafficking in Persons report, alongside countries like Rwanda and Pakistan, for not doing enough to tackle human trafficking. Campaigners say exploitation in the sex industry is common and forced labour is rife among 370,000 foreign domestic workers in the former British colony, which maintains a laissez-faire economic system despite its return to Chinese rule in 1997. Lawmaker Dennis Kwok said he will table a private member’s bill modelled after Britain’s Modern Slavery Act to the city’s legislature in July to clean up its “very bad” record. “As an international financial centre, we believe Hong Kong has an important role to play on this subject which affects 40 million people around the world,” he said. Recommendations in the bill include life sentences for traffickers, compelling firms to report whether their supply chains are free from slavery, and gives enforcement officers wider investigation power.

Kwok, a lawyer from the pro-democracy Civic Party, said Hong Kong could clamp down on the $150 billion in profits generated by traffickers around the globe each year. “I am sure some of them flow through Hong Kong so we need a comprehensive legislation to deal with that,” Kwok said ahead of a conference on Friday to galvanise public support for the bill. Some 200 people are expected at the conference convened by Kwok and another lawmaker.

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