The Antislavery in Domestic Legislation Database (hereafter referred to as “the Database”) reflects a tremendous amount of effort on the part of Dr Katarina Schwarz and Professor Jean Allain to comprehensively map legislative frameworks that seek to prohibit slavery around the world. Such endeavors are critical for advancing thoughtful analysis and comparative critique of the enactment and utilization of various legal instruments available to pursue justice for the most marginalized.
Invited to provide commentary on the Database, I considered its utility from two vantage points. First, I viewed the Database as a team member of a Fund that supports implementing organizations, considering the value add for partners continuing to push forward anti-slavery efforts globally. Next, I examined the Database from the orientation of a researcher, exploring its utility to expand knowledge on the effectiveness of various legal instruments to address modern slavery.
From an implementation perspective, the Database can offer insight into the various legal instruments at one’s disposal in a given Member State. We know that modern slavery, as an umbrella term, encompasses a wide variety of exploitative conditions. When working with implementors locally on modern slavery issues, the provisions they turn to for the prosecution of perpetrators and restitution for victims is somewhat variable depending upon the context, the case, the geography and the precedent for what has worked effectively in the past. Sometimes the right fit is a forced labor law, sometimes it is a bonded labour law and sometimes it is a trafficking law. Context and precedent matter and understanding what options exist can help advocates push for expanded provisions—when and where the current set are deemed insufficient to tackle the spectrum of exploitation that is occurring.
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