Our key takeaway: Can import bans be used as a tool to ensure effective remedy for those in situations of forced labour? Yes, but they are not currently being utilised to this end. The Remedy Project and The Freedom Fund draws on the US Tariff Act of 1930, which imposes an import ban on goods made in whole or in part by forced labour, to highlight how the connection between import bans and providing substantive remedies that goes beyond reimbursement of recruitment fees is not being realised. This is due to several reasons which range from a more limited definition of remediation than that referred to in the UN Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights (UNGPs); a focus on removing indicators of forced labour rather than the provision of remedies to decide if and when to remove an import ban; a lack of engagement with workers or workers’ representatives to understand which type of remedy to provide and how workers and rights holders can be involved in the design, and implementation of the remediation processes. What can companies do now to leverage import bans as a mechanism to provide effective remedies? Quite a lot it seems. Companies can involve stakeholders, especially workers and rights holders, in the design and implementation of remedies; move away from a ‘tick-box’, compliance-based approach to addressing human rights abuses; support suppliers in their remediation efforts by using its leverage and resources; and disengage responsibly if it decides to move away from a supplier.
The Remedy Project and The Freedom Fund have published Putting things right: Remediation of forced labour under the Tariff Act 1930 (April 2023):