International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

Picture Credit: Environmental Justice Foundation

By MarEx 2015-12-02 18:09:13

In a statement to mark International Day for the Abolition of Slavery on December 2, the Director-General of the International Labour Organization, Guy Ryder, calls on governments to ratify the ILO's Forced Labour Protocol to make a real change in the lives of the 21 million people worldwide who are trapped in modern slavery.

“Slavery is a fundamental abuse of human rights and a major obstacle to social justice. It is an affront to our humanity and it has no place in the twenty-first century,” says Ryder. “And yet 21 million women, men and children are still trapped in forced labor all over the world, generating $150 billion in illicit profits for those who exploit them.”

Ending modern slavery requires strong legislation, strict implementation, joint commitment of countries and social partners, along with effective support systems for the victims, he says. Effective measures on prevention, protection and access to justice are exactly what the ILO Forced Labour Protocol addresses. 

African countries have led the way, with Niger being the first to ratify and countries of the Southern African Development Community all calling for immediate ratification. Following the second ratification by Norway in November, the Protocol will enter into force in one year’s time. 

If fully implemented, the Protocol’s provisions on remedies and compensation will not only provide justice to the many victims of forced labor - through damages and unpaid wages won back from perpetrators, it will also make it less profitable to use forced labor and help to combat unfair competition.

“We launched the 50 for freedom campaign as a first step, targeting 50 ratifications of the Protocol by 2018. If we want to achieve social justice we simply have to eliminate forced labor. This is not negotiable,” says Ryder.

Slavery in the Fishing Industry

Earlier this week, the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) released a new new report and film, Thailand's Seafood Slaves, which uncover the sophisticated and corrupt system of slavery and human trafficking that goes to the very core of the multi-million dollar seafood industry. 

EJF investigators have met with rescued men who give tragic accounts and identify those who have brutalized and murdered workers, some as revenge for foiled escape plans, others killed simply to terrify their fellow crew members to work hard and not step out of line.

Read some MarEx coverage of slavery here:

ILO Calls for Support for Slavery Protocol
U.S. Consumers in Seafood Slavery Suit
Under-Reporting of Slavery and Abuse in Pacific Fisheries
Thailand Too Slow on Slavery Reforms