Background - Practices (Details)

Human Rights and Forced Labor


Modern Slavery, Child Labor, and Supply Chain Due Diligence 

Despite the recent attention, restrictions on forced labor are not new. The U.S. law banning goods made by slave or child labor – 19 U.S.C. § 1307 – dates back to the Tariff Act of 1930 and prohibits the importation of goods made wholly or in part with forced labor. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) implements Section 1307 through the issuance of Withhold Release Orders (WRO) and findings to prevent such goods from entering the U.S.

In recent years, there has been increased public pressure and many governments are taking a more proactive role in trying to prevent and combat these labor practices. According to a 2022 report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), 28 million people are currently in forced labor, a 12 percent increase since 2016. The alarming growth of modern slavery in recent years has prompted a number of countries to take action: the UK passed its Modern Slavery Act in 2015, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) went into effect in the United States in 2022, the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act will come into effect on January 1, 2023, and legislation on forced labor and due diligence obligations is pending in the EU and Canada.

Crowell’s International Trade Group regularly advises companies on compliance with these increasingly complex U.S. and international laws and regulations governing forced labor and the movement of goods across national borders. Producers, importers, and exporters doing business in this dynamic regulatory environment rely on our lawyers and trade professionals to provide advice on these issues and facilitate communications with, and enhance access to, regulatory authorities in relevant jurisdictions.

Our experience in this area includes:

  • Obtaining termination of CBP WROs.
  • Obtaining modification of CBP WROs.
  • Obtaining release of detained imports.
  • Advising clients on CBP RASA, forced labor audits, and investigations.
  • Assisting clients in establishing human rights compliance programs, including CTPAT Trade Compliance process and procedures as well as employee/supplier training.
  • Drafting supplier codes of conduct and contract provisions, and preparing standard operating procedures for anti-forced labor compliance programs.
  • Advising on supply chain mapping and supplier qualification to identify incidents of forced labor and advise on steps for remediation.
  • Overseeing and conducting third party audits and investigations.
  • Counseling clients on China Anti-foreign Sanctions Law, UK Modern Slavery, EU forced labor regulations, and German Supply Chain Due Diligence requirements.
  • Providing weekly updates to clients on global human rights and forced labor developments.
  • Conducting comprehensive and targeted training to businesses on how to comply with new legal requirements and implement effective compliance programs. 

We have helped clients in the following industries with forced labor issues:

  • Palm oil
  • Silica (solar)
  • Cotton (apparel)
  • Home improvement/flooring
  • Tobacco
  • Stevia
  • Fishing
  • Technology/electronics
  • Automotive
  • Aerospace
  • Medical products
  • Defense
  • Oil and gas
  • Food and beverage