California Law Attempts to End Human Trafficking

The state of California is an innovator in the fight against human trafficking.

Coming into effect in 2012, The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, dictates that certain companies must disclose any steps taken to address forced labor and human trafficking in their supply chains. Specifically, the law applies to any retailer doing business in the state with a global gross annual revenue of at least $100 million.

Notable companies that must disclose the information include Coca Cola, Apple, General Mills, and Chevron. The law is meant to tell people that human trafficking is not simply a law enforcement problem or one that belongs to social services. Both the public and private sector has a role to play in the elimination of what equates to slavery.

By forcing companies to disclose the steps that they are taking to ensure that human trafficking is not taking place in their supply chains, California is giving American a choice. Do you want to buy your products from companies that are doing nothing? Most Americans would say no.

Unfortunately, though the law has merit, the way that the state is handling the disclosure of information leaves much to be desired. The list of companies covered by the law is made available every year to the State Attorney General’s office, but the list is not made public. The office has determined that the list of companies is confidential.

As it stands, the law requires disclosure, but it does not require that disclosure to be made public. If enacted correctly, the law would give Americans an upper hand in the fight against human trafficking with the thing that would hit home for companies…money. If Americans knew that a company was doing nothing to prevent trafficking along the supply chain, they could choose to spend their cash elsewhere.

Human trafficking is a problem that must be dealt with. The word “problem” doesn’t cover the horror of this crime. Without being able to learn which companies are above board and which are not, Americans’ hands are tied. We are unable to make informed choices, and the law is, at the very least, tainted.

What we do know is that we cannot simply be satisfied with a law that says all the right things. We must fight for laws that enable citizens to act. Together, companies and citizens can help to end the abomination that is human trafficking.

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