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Xenophobic rhetoric created the conditions for abusing migrants

idi euaTo combat exploitation like that uncovered by the Observer in Sicily, the EU needs a pan-European law on supply chain transparency

To combat exploitation like that uncovered by the Observer in Sicily, the EU needs a pan-European law on supply chain transparency
Aidan McQuade

The levels of abuse of documented migrants in Sicily are shocking but not surprising.

In 2003, long before the feeble European response to the Mediterranean refugee crisis, Anti-Slavery International published The Migration-Trafficking Nexus. This report identified the particular vulnerabilities to enslavement that migrants face because of systematic failures of destination countries to protect their human rights.

Since then, the Council of Europe anti-trafficking convention and the European Union anti-trafficking directive have gone some way towards establishing a common legal framework in response to the enslavement of human beings across Europe. But, as with all laws, these measures can have little impact if states refuse to implement them.

In recent years an ever more poisonous xenophobic rhetoric has spread across Europe. This establishes an environment highly conducive to the exploitation of migrants and allows greater freedom to those who wish to turn a blind eye. The prejudice against migrants means there is insufficient public anger to turn the issue of their disgraceful treatment into a political one that must be resolved.

The failures of Sicilian authorities to protect the human rights of vulnerable workers, which the Observer has uncovered, are not unique to Italy. Recently, for example, the state-sponsored trafficking of North Korean citizens to Poland and Malta has been exposed.

In the UK, Anti-Slavery International has dealt with cases across the country where our clients have been let down by police who have failed to recognise the facts of their enslavement. These sorts of routine policing failures have been courageously highlighted by the UK’s anti-slavery commissioner, Kevin Hyland, but, it seems, with results unsatisfactorily similar to those in Italy, despite the efforts of Italian human rights activists on behalf of migrants in Sicily.

More must be done. The EU needs a pan-European law on supply-chain transparency, similar to the UK’s, but with more teeth. Such a law should compel businesses to expose where the risks of slavery in their supply chains are highest, and should empower public officials to exclude from the single market goods tainted with forced and child labour.

Before the vote for Brexit, one would have said this was a matter that the British government should be leading on in the EU council of ministers, to give full expression to the country’s anti-slavery traditions and ambitions.

The carnage in the Mediterranean and the tolerance of slavery within Europe starkly demonstrate that the region is betraying its own ideals of upholding democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Europe desperately needs leaders of conscience and courage to remember these ideals and translate them into law and policy that repudiates the xenophobic prejudices that allow human rights abuses to flourish.

Fonte: The Guardian

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