The Modern Slavery Act 2015: world leading or a missed opportunity to enhance victim protection?

Doostgharin, Sepideh (2020) The Modern Slavery Act 2015: world leading or a missed opportunity to enhance victim protection? Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


This thesis examines the UK‘s supposed victim-centred approach in developing its latest national anti-trafficking legislation - the Modern Slavery Act (MSA) 2015. Offering an original contribution to the knowledge base, it considers whether the UK‘s national legal framework is sufficiently equipped to protect women who are trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and whether it meets international human rights standards.

The thesis analyses the gradual development of international anti-trafficking law and policy, demonstrating the way in which this has influenced the UK‘s national resolve to address this complex phenomenon. It presents a critical legal analysis, comparing the MSA to the UN Palermo Protocol, the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (ECAT), and EU instruments and policy positions. Original data, using mixed methods, has been collected from policy makers and lawyers, using surveys and in depth interviews. Key themes explored include the shift in language from human trafficking to modern slavery and its effect on legislative responses to human trafficking, and whether the MSA delivers sufficient protection to victims at the various stages of a case. The stages are victims‘ identification and the provision of long and short-term support, their protection as offenders and the protection of victims during their asylum applications and applications for discretionary leave to remain in the UK. Provisions for victim protection and support must be robust and clear in each stage of the legal process, if the protection offered by legislation is to be sufficient: a standard that this thesis suggests has not been met through development of the MSA.

The thesis concludes that the MSA is flawed in a number of crucial ways. It does not fully comply with international standards, nor does it substantially advance victim protection because it continues to focus disproportionately on crime control within a policy context preoccupied with limiting irregular migration.

Doostgharin-Sepideh_PhD-thesis.pdf - Published Version

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