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Legal strategies

Our Legal Strategies initiative seeks to ensure that the perpetrators of slavery, and those that are benefiting from their crimes, are held to account. Our aim is to strengthen existing legal frameworks on modern slavery, while supporting innovative approaches to creating new avenues of accountability.

Building on the progress we have made in supporting strategic litigation, our goal is to build a stronger and more diverse global legal movement against slavery. The initiative is structured around three pillars:

1. ADVANCING ANTI-SLAVERY STRATEGIC LITIGATION

Strategic litigation challenges impunity and uses the force of the law to redress the imbalance of power that exists between victims and perpetrators. It has the power to drive legal reform, punish perpetrators and compel corporate action. It can also act as a deterrent by increasing the costs – both financial and reputational – to those who profit from slavery.

Since 2017 we have been funding litigation that seeks to establish important legal precedents to eliminate modern slavery. In particular, we actively seek to support innovative legal strategies that are pushing the frontiers of corporate accountability, including criminal cases against companies implicated in exploitation through their supply chains, and the use of trade laws to challenge the importation of products tainted with forced labour.

The Tariff Act Legal Fund

The Freedom Fund established the Tariff Act Legal Fund in 2019 to drive enforcement of the forced labour import ban under section 307 of the U.S. Tariff Act. The Tariff Act Legal Fund has helped civil society launch on-the-ground investigations to gather evidence of exploitative labour practices linked with goods being imported into the U.S., and file petitions with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The Tariff Act acts as a strong deterrent to businesses seeking to profit from forced labour, and a wakeup call to companies on the risk of forced labour in their supply chains. We launched a new round of funding for investigations in October 2021, find out more here.

2. BRIDGING THE LOCAL-GLOBAL CAPACITY GAP

Frontline NGOs are best placed to gather evidence of modern slavery and support victims to seek remedies. However, they often lack the capacity and support to take a leading role in corporate accountability actions. We seek to address this gap, through technical assistance and network building, to enable local NGOs to identify and drive domestic and transnational litigation opportunities.

3. BUILDING A GLOBAL MOVEMENT

Through the Freedom Fund’s growing network of partner organisations, we promote greater coordination and collaboration among litigation actors. We also build relationships with key donors in this field and continue to generate research and awareness on legal strategies as an effective tool to tackle modern slavery.

LEGAL STRATEGIES REPORTS

Under the Legal Strategies initiative we have supported the following reports:

Freedom Fund