“As I Have Loved You, So You Must Love One Another.” A Call to Protect the Rights of Victims of Modern Slavery


Ahead of the celebrations this Easter weekend, we must first mark Maundy Thursday, the day on which Jesus shared the Last Supper with his disciples. Whilst Jesus’ Last Supper is well known in Christianity, it was also an important meal for a different reason. The Last Supper was, in fact, a Seder meal during the celebration of Passover, when Moses freed the Israelites from slavery, something still celebrated today in the Jewish community. This reminder of slavery and the importance of freedom and leadership is particularly relevant this year as the British Government introduces new legislation on modern slavery for the first time in over half a decade. Next week the Nationality and Borders Bill, which includes an entire chapter on Modern Slavery, returns to the House of Commons.

Whilst the UK has been a world leader in tackling modern slavery, there are concerns that this chapter will have a detrimental impact on victims. As a result of this concern, organisations and survivors of modern slavery are calling for members of the public to write to their MP to ensure victims’ rights are protected when the Bill is debated next week.

There is one section within the Bill that is of real concern to Caritas, along with the Anti-Slavery sector, leading prosecutors and cross-party Peers and Lord Bishops who supported an amendment in the House of Lords. This section could see victims of modern slavery with criminal convictions excluded from support as a survivor of slavery. Our faith tells us to forgive, but this law would prevent vulnerable people from being recognised as victims of one crime because they were perpetrators of another.

This sets a dangerous precedent as sadly we know that 48% of victims of modern slavery are forced to commit crimes as part of their exploitation – and many of these victims are children. We also know that individuals with convictions are often targeted by traffickers, precisely because their past mistakes make them appear more vulnerable and accessible to exploitation. We believe that unless these victims pose an immediate, genuine and serious threat to the public, they must still be seen as victims and afforded protection and support. Without support, victims of modern slavery are unable to recover, unable to support prosecutions of their trafficker and unable to move on with their lives.

This is why the Anti-Slavery sector is also calling on the UK Government to ensure that all confirmed victims of modern slavery receive 12 months of tailored support to give them the stability to recover from their ordeal. Especially at this time of year when Jesus told his followers, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” it is vitally important that we ask the Government to protect all victims of modern slavery and provide them with the support they deserve.

The charity After Exploitation has written an email, which you can send to your MP before Wednesday 20th April. It will take 2 minutes to do but could make a lifetime of difference – click here to access it.

To find out more about Caritas Bakhita House, click here 

The Human Trafficking Foundation was established to support and add value to the work of the many charities and agencies operating to combat human trafficking in the UK. To find out more, click here 



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