The President of Challenging Heights, James Kofi Annan, has urged member countries of the African Continental Free Trade Association (AfCFTA) to take urgent steps to address issues of modern slavery and human trafficking in their business supply chains or risk not gaining anything from the AfCFTA initiative. He said most African countries have enacted laws against human trafficking and modern slavery, but none so far is known to have enacted such laws directed at businesses, to address supply chain issues.
James Kofi Annan was addressing the global business leaders and government ministers around the world, at this year’s Bali Process Government and Business Forum (GABF), held in Adelaide, Australia. This year’s Bali Process was jointly chaired by Australia and Indonesia’s Foreign Ministers and two business co-chairs—Andrew Forrest (Australia) and Garibaldi Thohir (Indonesia).
The President of Challenging Height told the gathering that Ghana is presently hosting the Secretariat of the Africa Continental Free Trade Association (AfCFTA), a continental zone created for companies in Africa to compete on the global market.
He said although most African countries have passed human trafficking laws, nearly all the laws are weak on slavery in supply chain due diligence requirements.
“I am yet to know any company within the AfCFTA enclave doing anything to address issues of slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains because there is no obligation to do so,” Mr Annan emphasised.
According to him, the absence of any modern slavery or human trafficking due diligence law on the African continent presents a greater risk for the survival and success of AfCFTA and the companies operating within the enclave. He further indicated that with the passage of the Australian Modern Slavery Act and the impending passage of the European Union Due Diligence Legislation, as well as several of these laws being passed by most industrialized countries, most African companies would soon be required to comply with foreign due diligence laws to do business internationally.
He stressed, “I want AfCFTA member countries to emulate the Bali Process example, by acknowledging that the problem exists and for them to act to address issues of human trafficking and modern slavery in their supply chains.”
Human trafficking and modern slavery have gained wide international attention in the last couple of decades. Available data shows that there are nearly 50 million victims of slavery worldwide, with nearly every country in the world being affected by the situation. The annual profit from this illicit trade is estimated at $150 billion, making it the second-largest illicit trade in the world.
In Ghana, it is estimated that there are over 133,000 people who are victims of modern slavery, with over 20,000 children affected by the Lake Volta fishing business alone. Challenging Heights has been a leading activist in the space, having rescued over 1,800 children from human trafficking situations since 2003.
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