Liberty Shared's Legal Resource Centre aims to provide resources for NGO support providers and legal practitioners working in the area of human trafficking in Hong Kong. The resources include legal instruments, case laws, best practice materials, guidelines as well as recent news and reports relating to human trafficking in Hong Kong and on an international level. An online consultation service also provides practitioners with the opportunity to send requests for assistance tailored to the needs of their respective cases.
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While most countries have laws in place to provide financial compensation for victims of crime, in practice these frameworks often fall short in their ability to guarantee human trafficking victims’ right to compensation. Seeking compensation is often a long, complex process, and the lack of legal assistance for victims to navigate these systems and weak enforcement of awards mean a very small number of trafficking victims globally actually seek and receive financial redress. Many victims seeking compensation face the challenge of burdensome eligibility requirements. For example, victims may receive a reduced or nil award if they don’t report the crime promptly or file a police report, if they don’t cooperate with the investigation of the offender, or if they don’t fit within certain residence and good conduct requirements. The report offers recommendations for how jurisdictions can best address these issues to ensure access to compensation, such as prohibiting the criminalization of human trafficking victims for crimes they were forced to commit as a result of their trafficking.
The manual aims at providing a training package for legal practitioners who may be exposed to forced labour in the course of their duties in Malaysia. The legal aid service providers, judges and prosecutors not only have the responsibility to punish offenders but must do so while respecting and protecting the human rights of, and addressing the needs of victims of forced labour. When victims’ rights are protected, there is a greater possibility that they will freely consider participating in the criminal justice proceedings, thus enhancing effective criminal investigations. The development of this training manual was led by Archana Kotecha, Asia Region Director and Head of Legal for Liberty Shared and supported by Liva Sreedharan (ILO consultant), in close collaboration with the Judicial and Legal Training Institute of Malaysia (ILKAP) and the ILO.
The report examines the current underlying framework of law and governance that impose greater accountability and liability on businesses participating in the palm oil industry. The palm oil industry has been linked to longstanding environmental issues and ongoing violation of labour rights, including forced and child labour. To a degree, the palm oil industry does openly accept that the social and environmental issues exist and it recognises that broader society increasingly wants these addressed because over the years it has responded with various initiatives. But fundamental problems persist and the RSPO’s efforts have not raised the standard of practices. This lack of resolution is largely driven by the failure of the industry and those concerned by the industry’s impact to agree on the nature and extent of the problems. The report argues that ethical responsibility needs to sit in a framework of clear criminal, civil and regulatory liability so that arguments of business ethics are a refinement to an underlying legal position, they cannot be the primary default position for corporate governance.
The hotel industry is inherently vulnerable to modern slavery due to the nature of the industry, the web of business relationships connected with each hotel and the consequent needs of each hotel, such as the need for a wide array of reasonably priced services, its seasonality, and labour supply. With the rise of modern slavery and supply chain transparency laws, the hotel industry can no longer look the other way and continue to operate without any accountability. Hotels operating under major international brand franchises are particularly exposed to risks in relation to modern slavery due to its potentially lower ethical standards or practices or they are simply located in regions where the rule of law is weaker. It is therefore important that franchisors are aware of these risks. This guide sets out practical solutions aimed at ensuring that a franchisee’s operations have the relevant safeguards in place to prevent human trafficking, forced labour and other forms of exploitation.
The lack of a guaranteed minimum wage, exclusion from the Employment Act, along with the nonmandatory employment contract and the insufficient guidelines on working conditions, among others, leave Singapore’s migrant domestic worker population vulnerable to different forms and degrees of labour exploitation and abuse. Whilst anti-trafficking legislation exists, this is in no way a substitute for fundamental labour protections. This report contributes to a deeper understanding of what forced labour looks like in practice and how it manifests itself in the domestic work sector in Singapore. It is hoped to encourage key stakeholders to collaborate towards ensuring timely and much needed support to victims and prevention.
This paper is the second in a series of five position papers highlighting financial and legal risks arising from the current governance, management, supervision and administration of labour to the palm oil industry. The report identifies numerous potential liabilities for palm oil buyers and investors to consider when making investments in this sector to avoid facilitation and profit generation from labour abuses and failure to take action to address these issues. As transparency and accountability in the supply chain are on the rise, there is a need for vigilance in the industry and effective governance, monitoring and supervision systems at all levels of the palm oil supply chain to ensure that the rights of the workers are respected.
All too often cross-border human trafficking prosecutions in Cambodia and elsewhere are stalled or derailed because victims are unwilling or unable to participate in the process. This lack of willingness or ability may be due to security concerns, a desire to return home to focus on recovery and rehabilitation, or other immediate needs such as earning a living. Confronting their traffickers in court and recalling horrifying and personal details of the abuses can be particularly traumatic.
This paper examines the legal systems of several ASEAN states that have incorporated comprehensive laws relating to the use of video-link evidence and analyses the relevant laws in Cambodia. The paper makes the case for increased use of remote witness testimony as a viable, safe, and legal alternative for victims of human trafficking to participate in the judicial process in Cambodia or elsewhere.
A key issue for consideration is clarity on the ongoing/monthly transfer of payroll monies and to the extent to which these are provided to recruitment agents/worker provider companies/outsourcing agents for payment to workers, and to identify on whose behalf such payroll monies are managed and administrated. If workers are not receiving wages, as many claim, then it is important to establish if payroll and wage monies are being retained and perhaps misused by these agents or if the administration and management by all parties of such monies is simply not as efficient as is necessary to ensure timely and accurate payment.
At the same time, it is worth considering if criminal activities, such as money laundering and corruption, might be occurring as the sums may be significant. In fact, unpaid and outstanding wage liabilities and claims may aggregate to amounts giving rise to substantial and material risks to stakeholders and their derived benefits, which may even be retrievable through disgorgement and other means.
To provide a wider perspective of the industry and its nature, we have applied and combined various research efforts to identify and describe elements of likely unlawful and criminal activity that may touch and concern the industry and those stakeholders deriving their benefit from it.
The contents of this document provide a practical assessment of risk within the wider industry structure and the urgent need for better governance, management and administration to prevent these undesirable activities continuing and giving rise to greater risk and potential liability. More than anything, the contents of the document seek to draw the attention of stakeholders to the plight of those providing their labour and the unhealthy environment surrounding them and the palm oil industry.
This report discusses the realities of accessing victim compensation under the anti-trafficking legal frameworks in Thailand and Cambodia. The report consists of desk-based research that reviews the current victim compensation systems in both countries, in-depth interviews with relevant stakeholders from NGOs, legal practitioners, government officials to international organizations and a review of legal case judgments in cases of sex and labour trafficking from 2014-2017. The report also identifies ways in which the gaps and limitations in the existing systems could be addressed to form the basis of advocacy efforts for improved access to remedies.
This practical guide leverages the lessons of regulatory compliance to illustrate how global businesses can manage human rights risks effectively, with a particular focus on modern slavery. This guide provides a quick reference for corporate directors and officers to implement modern slavery policies and procedures that meet stakeholder expectations while navigating emerging legal risk practically and efficiently.
The use of criminal defamation continues to intimidate workers seeking to enforce their rights, human rights defenders, local communities, whistleblowers and journalists in Southeast Asia particularly in the context of business-related activities. Reports on workers, human rights activists and journalists facing charges for allegedly defamaing big corporations span across different industries from poultry, fruit and vegetble export, mining and palm oil.
The report recommends governments to take measures keeping courts from being used against workers seeking to enforce their rights, human rights defenders seeking corporate accountability, by decriminalizing defamation and preventing large and powerful corporations to sue for civil defamation as well as enhancing defenses to civil defamation claims. The public interest is not best served by the use of criminal defamation laws and it also undermines the effective application of labor laws and anti-exploitation laws in protecting vulnerable people.
The report is the fourth of a series of legal gap analysis of anti-trafficking, anti-money laundering and anti-corruption legislations in Southeast Asia. The Vietnamese government has made significant progress to reinforce the current legal system on combating trafficking, particularly in regulation and criminalising trafficking in the Penal Code. Trafficking in persons and its concerning activities are scattered in widespread offences and the legal system could benefit from consolidating related offences under a single piece of anti-trafficking legislation. The absence of the non-criminalisation provision is also problematic and limits victims' access to justice.
The report is the third of a series of legal gap anylysis of anti-trafficking legislation in Southeast Asia. There have been significant developments in the policy and legal framework in Malaysia but significant gaps remain in the protection and access to justice mechanisms for victims of trafficking and other forms of exploitation particularly the vast majoirty of exploited foreign migrant workers who are employed across the formal and informal work force in different sectors.
The report is an industry-focused analysis of the Malaysian palm oil industry with specific insights into the industry’s governance and investment framework, relevant labour laws that apply to migrant workers in the industry and various dispute resolution mechanisms that are available to address disputes of individuals and communities affected by the operations. Several initiatives and guidance to improve the governance and social framework, certification standards and responsible investment including Environmental Social Governance reporting are discussed to highlight the multiple opportunities that are available to a range of stakeholders including the business community, civil society, law enforcement and industry bodies in the palm oil industry to leverage existing opportunities to improve social standards particularly social issues that affect the migrant worker communities and create a change in business practices that respond to and respect the human rights.
This section contains treaties, conventions, international laws and Hong Kong laws for practitioners working with victims of human trafficking. We also provide information on the status of treaties, conventions and other international instruments to which Hong Kong has become a party.
Our case law section contains international, European Court of Human Rights, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and Hong Kong cases that consider issues of trafficking, sexual exploitation, forced labour, domestic servitude, debt bondage and forced marriage.
This section is now organized by topic and where cases were decided. Since cases brought in one area of practice may contain findings on trafficking that are relevant to other areas of practice, we encourage practitioners to review the case law beyond their specific practice area with this in mind. Liberty Asia have prepared summaries of many of the cases listed outlining key findings.
We encourage all practitioners to forward relevant cases to us for inclusion in these pages to share with other practitioners.
This section collates recent news, reports, best practice materials, general principles/guidelines, useful learning tools and websites that may be useful for practitioners working in the area of human trafficking. Liberty Asia encourages colleagues to forward useful reports and other materials to share with other practitioners.
This section allows service providers to send in queries about their trafficking cases and be sent relevant legislation, policy or research as required. Other queries are also welcome.