Independent Anti-Slavery Chief resigns citing government interference

The first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner in Britain has resigned after four years in the job.

Commissioner Kevin Hyland says government interference in his role in the Vatican-sponsored Santa Marta Group led to his resignation.

“At times independence has felt somewhat discretionary from the Home Office, rather than legally bestowed,” his resignation letter says.

“I hope that any future incumbent can be assured the independence I am sure you intended as the author of the legislation.”

Hyland was responsible for coordinating Britain’s efforts to tackle modern slavery.

His role included strengthening international efforts to battle slavery-related crimes. These involve money laundering, corruption, sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

He and English Cardinal Vincent Nichols established the Santa Marta Group. The Group began as an informal network of cops and religious organisations.

The Group – which has Pope Francis’s support – helps police departments work with local religious groups and non-government organisations (NGOs) to help human trafficking victims.

Hyland also helped enact Britain’s Modern Slavery Act and led a global drive to end modern slavery by 2030.

Nichols, who is the Group’s president says he hopes the government will “speedily” appoint a successor for Hyland.

He also hopes it will “increase its active support” for the Commission’s work.

“As Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin has always argued for greater resources that have often been promised,” Nichols says.

“He has also argued for a more coordinated approach to combatting this terrible crime.

“I sincerely hope that his considerable experience and expertise in this field will not be lost.

“He has been dedicated to the fight against human trafficking for a number of years and, during his time in office, public awareness has grown about the extent of this terrible crime and the need to combat it on a number of different levels.”

The British Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has called on the government to do more.

The Committee says Parliament needs to understand the problem of human trafficking and to develop a “coherent action” against the crime.


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