Research finds modern slavery risks have increased in 20 member states

supply chain networks

Modern slavery risks have risen in the majority of European Union member states, according to an annual study by global risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft.

The research assesses 198 countries on the strength of their laws, the effectiveness of their enforcement and the severity of violations. It found that 20 EU countries dropped in the rankings, with Romania, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Bulgaria posing the highest risk.

The presence of vulnerable migrant populations in the primary countries of arrival is a key contributor for increases in slavery across multiple sectors in the region, such as agriculture, construction and services, Verisk Maplecroft said.

Due to the geographic shift in migrant sea arrivals, the global risk consultancy expects the risk of modern slavery to worsen in Italy over the next year, with agriculture a sector of concern.

“The migrant crisis has increased the risk of slavery incidents appearing in company supply chains across Europe,” states Sam Haynes, senior human rights analyst at Verisk Maplecroft. “It is no longer just the traditional sourcing hotspots in the emerging economies that businesses should pay attention to when risk assessing their suppliers and the commodities they source.”

Even the EU’s biggest economies are not immune to the rise in slavery risk. Germany and the UK have seen slight negative shifts in their scores, taking them just over the ‘low risk’ threshold into the ‘medium risk’ category of the index. New data has revealed gaps in the UK’s labour inspectorate, while Germany has experienced an uptick in recorded trafficking and servitude violations.

With new and emerging legislation on modern slavery and human rights appearing in the UK, France, the Netherlands and Australia, the research shows that top sourcing locations in the emerging markets should, however, remain firmly on the radar of companies.

The chief Asian manufacturing hubs, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand, all feature in the ‘extreme’ or ‘high risk’ categories.

North Korea, Syria, South Sudan, Yemen, DR Congo, Sudan, Iran, Libya, Eritrea and Turkmenistan are rated by the Modern Slavery Index as posing the highest risk of all countries measured.