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LCA backs amendments to combat slavery

LCA backs amendments to combat slavery

Fiona McLeod

The Law Council of Australia has applauded amendments that aim to strengthen the nation’s criminal justice legislative response to human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offences.

The LCA has backed the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee’s inquiry into the Crimes Legislation Amendment (International Crime Cooperation and Other Measures), saying it has endorsed important changes.

One of these important changes allows for the protection of a child complainant who is not a witness in a proceeding, including in serious sexual exploitation, human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices such as forced marriage proceedings.

In addition, the changes allow for appropriate protections and supports to be in place to ensure vulnerable witnesses are in a position to present their testimony to the court whereby the risk of intimidation, trauma, fear and/or undue public embarrassment are minimised.

LCA president Fiona McLeod SC (pictured) said amending the laws was an essential step towards “bringing slavery and human trafficking out of the shadows”.

“Slavery is very much a reality in modern Australia and across the globe but to most Australians slavery and human trafficking are invisible,” Ms McLeod said.

“Amending Australian laws so that extra protections and supports are afforded to those who need it the most — the vulnerable and the abused, especially children — is a very important step.

“We commend the federal government’s intent in this crucial area. We know there are people right now in Australia being exploited and controlled through intimidation. We need to do everything we can to encourage potential witnesses and protect those who do come forward.”

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