Panel Discussion: Modern Slavery

This panel discussion forms part of a three-part public seminar series on the past and present of slavery, organised by the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights and moderated by Samantha Knights QC. The discussion will address labour exploitation, forced labour and trafficking today; the Modern Slavery Act; business and human rights.

Dame Sara Thornton is the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner responsible for encouraging good practice in the prevention and detection of modern slavery and the identification of victims. She was the first Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council from 2015 to 2019. Dame Sara joined the Metropolitan Police Service in 1986 and in 2000 transferred to Thames Valley Police on promotion to Assistant Chief Constable. Following four years as Deputy Chief Constable she was appointed Chief Constable in 2007. She contributed significantly to national policing during this time and was the national lead on intelligence, Vice-Chair of ACPO Terrorism and Allied Matters, Director of the Police National Assessment Centre and ACPO Vice-President. Dame Sara is Chair of the National Leadership Centre’s Advisory Board. She is a member of the Royal College of Defence Studies, the Advisory Board for the Oxford University Centre for Criminology and a trustee and board member of the Police Foundation. Dame Sara is a graduate of Durham University, also holding a Master of Studies (MSt) degree in Applied Criminology and Police Management from Cambridge University alongside honorary doctorates from Oxford Brookes University and Buckinghamshire New University. She is Honorary Professor in Modern Slavery at the Centre for the Study of International Slavery, University of Liverpool. Dame Sara was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in 2006 and made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2011. She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2019. She has also been recognised with a Career Achievement Award from the Police Training Authority Trustees and the Sir Robert Peel Medal for Outstanding Leadership in Evidence- Based Policing. She is an honorary Air Commodore in the Royal Air Force supporting the work of the auxiliary police squadron.

Siddharth Kara is an author, researcher, screenwriter, and activist on modern slavery. He is a British Academy Global Professor (2020-2024) based at Nottingham University, an adjunct lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a Senior Fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health. Kara has authored three books on modern slavery: Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery (2009); Bonded Labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia (2012); and Modern Slavery: A Global Perspective (2017). Kara adapted his first book into a Hollywood film, Trafficked. Across twenty-one years of field research, Kara has traveled to more than fifty countries to document the cases of several thousand slaves and child laborers. Kara advises several UN agencies and numerous governments on anti-slavery policy and law. Kara’s current research efforts are focused on conditions in cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is also the topic of his forthcoming fourth book with Oxford University Press.

Kate Garbers is a Rights Lab Research Fellow in Survivor Support at the University of Nottingham. She works as part of the Rights Lab’s Law and Policy Programme to investigate the benefits of work for modern slavery survivors, and the harm caused by not working. She is a founder and former Director of Unseen, a charity working towards a world without slavery by working directly with exploited people whilst also tackling the wider systemic issues of slavery. Kate recently left her directorship role with Unseen but is assisting the organisation and the wider sector in her capacity as a modern slavery consultant. Kate developed the Anti-Slavery Partnership, an innovative model to bring together a range of partners and agencies working across the sector. She co-chaired the regional partnership with Avon and Somerset Constabulary. She continues to be a member of the Modern Slavery Implementation Group with a focus on Victim Care. This group reports directly to the Minister and the Modern Slavery Unit (Home Office) on issues that impact and effect victims of slavery in the UK. Kate is regarded as an expert on trafficking; she contributed to the Modern Slavery Act and the National Referral Mechanism Review and recently was invited to write a research paper for the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. She has advised, collaborated with law enforcement, statutory agencies and businesses to assist them to identify and eradicate modern slavery in their sectors.

Samantha Knights QC is a practising barrister at Matrix specialising in public law and civil liberties with a focus on modern slavery, trafficking and refugee law. She has been involved in a number of recent challenges to policy, law and practice relating to the immigration status, support and accommodation for victims of slavery and trafficking as well as numerous other strategic human rights cases before the courts in the UK and Strasbourg. She is the chair of the Advisory Board of the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC), and is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Miami where she teaches international human rights law. Her new book Law, Rights, and Religion will be published by OUP in February 2021.