Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


UN Human Rights Council – 23rd Session

Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children

Statement by Australia, 28 May 2013

Australia thanks the Special Rapporteur for her report, in particular the detailed thematic analysis on measures to discourage the demand that fosters exploitation and leads to human trafficking.

Australia agrees that a strong legislative and policy response is required to reduce demand for exploited labour, and that States have a responsibility to take measures to address trafficking and exploitation by third parties, including business enterprises and criminal associations, through appropriate policies, regulation and adjudication. In February 2013, the Australian Parliament passed legislation to comprehensively criminalise forced labour and servitude, regardless of industry. The criminal offences extend to a person who conducts a business involving the forced labour or servitude of another person. Along with robust workplace regulation and compliance measures, these offences contribute to making Australia a hostile environment for offenders. The passage of the legislation also addresses a recommendation of the Special Rapporteur in her report on her visit to Australia in November 2011. Australia would appreciate the Special Rapporteur’s views on whether, in addition to regulation and prosecution of unacceptable practices, initiatives highlighting positive efforts of businesses to produce products free from exploitation could be useful in reducing consumer demand.

Australia also read with interest the Special Rapporteur’s summary report of the expert meeting on issues relating to human trafficking and supply chains. Australia recognises exploitation in supply chains as an emerging issue in our efforts to combat human trafficking and slavery, and acknowledges the need to lead by example with respect to ethical procurement. On 8 March 2013, the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Julia Gillard MP, announced the Australian Government Anti-Slavery Initiative, which seeks to ensure that no business providing goods or services to the Australian Government is tainted by human trafficking, slavery or related exploitative practices anywhere in the supply chain.