David Cameron recently became the first serving British Prime Minister to visit Vietnam and during his visit last week, he vowed to end the “abhorrent trade” of slavery and human trafficking.
He also unveiled new rules for large businesses, forcing them to prove what they are doing to stop slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains.
Vietnam is one of the main source countries for victims of human trafficking in the UK and the Prime Minister used his trip to offer extra co-operation with the Vietnamese authorities to tackle the problem, saying those responsible would face “tougher sanctions”.
The new rules will be introduced in October and apply to more than 12,000 firms with a turnover of £36m or more.
The new measures are to form part of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, under which all large companies will be required to publish an annual statement laying out the measures they are taking to ensure that slave labour is not being used.
Closer to home, it is thought that 3,000 children from Vietnam are working in British Cannabis farms and nail bars.
Mr Cameron said: “It is shocking that thousands of Vietnamese children in the UK are being used for profit by criminal gangs and that dozens more children are estimated to arrive on our shores every month.”
“That's why it's so important that we work with Vietnam to identify what more we can do to tackle this issue together.”
The government has also said it will fund a shelter for survivors of trafficking, particularly vulnerable women and children. In the provinces of Vietnam where the problem is particularly rife, it will also help to educate local people using an information campaign, in the hope that it will prevent victims from falling into the hands of smugglers in the first place.
Director of Anti Slavery International, Aidan McQuade, said: “A large proportion of clothing, particularly cotton, had some element of slave labour involved in its production.”
“We are all tied up in the webs that ultimately have forced labour and slavery within them.”
Although Mr McQuade welcomed the Prime Ministers announcement, he pointed out that there were several loopholes that needed to be closed, including the issue that overseas subsidiaries of UK companies were not required to comply with the new legislation.