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Over 40 million people still victims of slavery
by ILO, UN News, agencies
Dec. 2018
Slavery is still a very real and widespread phenomenon, affecting more than 40 million people worldwide, says the International Labour Organization (ILO), with children making up a quarter of the victims , despite the entry into force of the landmark Forced Labour protocol in 2016.
The 2nd of December is designated the UN International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, which marks the adoption by the General Assembly of the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, which entered into force in 1951.
The day is an opportunity to raise awareness of this global issue, and focus on the eradication of contemporary forms of slavery, such as human trafficking, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labour, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.
Most child labour that occurs today is for economic exploitation, contrary to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which recognizes “the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.”
Human trafficking is also explicitly prohibited by the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, adopted by the General Assembly in 2000, which defines trafficking as the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion for the purpose of exploitation.”
The ILO leads an ongoing campaign, along with its partners, to convince 50 countries to ratify the legally-binding Forced Labour Protocol, called 50 for freedom, where members of the public are encouraged to add their names to help reach the target: to date 27 countries have ratified the protocol.
# Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage,September 2017.
An estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 million in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage. It means there are 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world. 1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children.
Out of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labour, 16 million people are exploited in the private sector such as domestic work, construction or agriculture; 4.8 million persons in forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million persons in forced labour imposed by state authorities.
Women and girls are disproportionately affected by forced labour, accounting for 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry, and 58% in other sectors.
Sep. 2017
More than 40 Million in Modern Slavery, 152 Million in Child Labour Around the World. (IOM)
New research developed jointly by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Walk Free Foundation, in partnership with IOM, the UN Migration Agency has revealed the true scale of modern slavery around the world.
The data, released during the United Nations General Assembly, shows that more than 40 million people around the world were victims of modern slavery in 2016. ILO has also released a companion estimate of child labour, which confirms that about 152 million children, aged between 5 and 17, were subject to child labour.
The new estimates show that women and girls are disproportionately affected by modern slavery, accounting for almost 29 million, or 71 per cent of the overall total. Women represent 99 per cent of victims of forced labour in the commercial sex industry and 84 per cent of people in a forced marriage.
The research reveals that among the 40 million victims of modern slavery, about 25 million were in forced labour, and 15 million were living in a forced marriage.
Child labour remains concentrated primarily in agriculture (70.9 per cent). Almost one in five child labourers work in the services sector (17.1 per cent) while 11.9 per cent of child labourers work in industry.
Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, said: “The message the ILO is sending today – together with our partners in Alliance 8.7 – is very clear: the world won’t be in a position to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals unless we dramatically increase our efforts to fight these scourges. These new global estimates can help shape and develop interventions to prevent both forced labour and child labour.”
Andrew Forrest AO, Chairman and Founder of the Walk Free Foundation, said: “The fact that we still have 40 million people in modern slavery shames us all. It speaks to the deep-seated discrimination and inequalities in our world today, coupled with a shocking tolerance of exploitation. This has to stop. We all have a role to play in changing this reality – business, government, civil society, every one of us.”
The new global estimates are produced by ILO and Walk Free Foundation, in partnership with IOM, as a contribution towards Alliance 8.7. Central to the estimates of modern slavery is data from 54 specially designed, random sample surveys involving interviews with more than 71,000 respondents across 48 countries, alongside data from close to 40,000 victims of human trafficking assisted by IOM. Alliance 8.7 is the global partnership to end forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour that brings together key partners representing governments, UN organisations, the private sector, workers’ and employers’ organizations and civil society in order to achieve Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7.
The data is published in two reports:
Global estimates of modern slavery: Forced labour and forced marriage, prepared jointly by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Walk Free Foundation, in partnership with IOM, the UN Migration Agency. Global estimates of child labour: Results and trends, 2012-2016, prepared by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The 2017 Global Estimates can be found online:
Sept. 2017
More than 40 million people are living in slavery. (Guardian News, agencies)
An estimated 40.3 million people were victims of modern slavery in 2016, a quarter of them children, according to new global slavery statistics released today.
The figures, from the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Walk Free Foundation, show 24.9 million people across the world were trapped in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage last year. Children account for 10 million of the overall 40.3m total.
The 2017 Estimates of Modern Slavery report calculates that of 24.9 million victims of forced labour, 16 million are thought to be in the private economy, 4.8 million in forced sexual exploitation and 4.1 million in state-sponsored forced labour including mandatory military conscription and agricultural work.
“What is startling about these new estimates is the sheer scale of the modern slave trade and the fact that we have 40 million people across the world in some form of modern slavery is simply not acceptable,” said Fiona David, executive director of global research at the Walk Free Foundation.
“When you have 24.9 million people working under threat or coercion in farming, fishing and construction or in the sex industry and yet according to the United Nations only 63,000 victims of slavery were reported to the authorities last year, the gulf between the problem and the insufficient global response becomes very clear.”
The research also indicates that while many forced labourers reported violence or threat, the majority of them are exploited through debt bondage and non-payment of wages.
“We found that 50% of the 24.9m people in forced labour are in debt bondage, often arriving at a job with high recruitment debts to pay off or forced to take a job to pay off debt and with 7% of forced labourers saying their employers are forcing them to pay fines while at work,” said Michaëlle de Cock, senior statistician at the ILO.
“How forced labour affects the whole family is also very clear with 18% of male forced labourers surveyed saying that their employers directly threatened their families or children.”
The new global estimate also deals with forced marriage, the first time it has been included in any reporting of modern slavery figures.
“It isn’t clear why forced marriage has often been overlooked as a form of slavery in data reporting,” said David. “If you have a situation where someone is sold into marriage and is providing free domestic labour and has no sexual autonomy, then when you take the label of marriage away from this situation it’s often nothing less than slavery and we need to shine a light on this so that people can see it for what it is.”
According to the new global estimates, modern slavery is most prevalent in Africa, followed by Asia and the Pacific, although the ILO and Walk Free say that these results should be interpreted “cautiously”, due to a lack of available data from the Arab states and the Americas.
“We believe that the global estimate of 40.3 million is the most reliable data to date, although we believe it to be a conservative estimate as there were millions of people we couldn’t reach in conflict zones or on the refugee trail and places where we couldn’t be sure of collecting robust data such as the Gulf states, where access and language barriers prevented us from reaching the migrant worker communities,” said de Cock.
Researchers found that more than 70% of the 4.8 million victims of sex trafficking were in the Asia and Pacific region, while forced marriage was found to be the most prevalent across African countries.
The global estimates were calculated by drawing on a range of data over a five-year period, including interviews with more than 71,000 people across 48 countries. The ILO and Walk Free Foundation also used figures from the UN’s International Office for migration (IOM) and other UN agencies.
These figures are a marked increase from the ILO’s previous estimates of 21 million people in forced labour worldwide. The ILO and Walk Free attribute the rise to better reporting and research methodologies and the inclusion of forced marriage as a form of modern slavery.
The research was carried out as part of the drive to meet the sustainable development goal on slavery, which calls for the eradication of all forms of slavery, human trafficking and child labour.

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Google must not capitulate to China''s censorship demands
by Amnesty International
27 Nov. 2018
Yesterday Google staff published an open letter in support of Amnesty International’s campaign for Google to #Drop Dragonfly. Part of the letter reads:
“Many of us accepted employment at Google with the company’s values in mind, including its previous position on Chinese censorship and surveillance, and an understanding that Google was a company willing to place its values above its profits. After a year of disappointments including Project Maven, Dragonfly, and Google’s support for abusers, we no longer believe this is the case. This is why we’re taking a stand.”
Amnesty International applauds the bravery of Google staff publicly voicing ethical concerns, and calls on Google to commit to protecting whistle-blowers and all employees who speak out.
Google’s plans to launch a censored search app in China could irreparably damage internet users’ trust in the tech company, Amnesty International said today, warning that going ahead with the app would set a dangerous precedent for tech companies enabling rights abuses by governments.
The organization has launched a global petition calling on Google CEO Sundar Pichai to drop the app, which is codenamed Project Dragonfly and would blacklist search terms like “human rights” and “Nobel Prize”.
“This is a watershed moment for Google. As the world’s number one search engine, it should be fighting for an internet where information is freely accessible to everyone, not backing the Chinese government’s dystopian alternative,” said Joe Westby, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Technology and Human Rights.
“Many of Google’s own staff have spoken out against these plans, unwilling to play a role in the Chinese government’s manipulation of information and persecution of dissidents. Their courageous and principled stance puts Google’s leadership to shame. Today we are standing with Google staff and asking them to join us in calling on Sundar Pichai to drop Project Dragonfly and reaffirm Google’s commitment to human rights.”
The Chinese government runs one of the world’s most repressive internet censorship and surveillance regimes. In 2010 Google publicly exited the search market in China, citing restrictions to freedom of expression online. Since then, the Chinese government has intensified its crackdown and it is unclear how Google would safeguard human rights in this environment.
Leaked internal documents obtained by The Intercept show that the prototype app that Google built under Project Dragonfly would comply with China’s censorship rules by automatically identifying and filtering websites blocked in China and “blacklisting sensitive queries”. According to The Intercept, the blacklist that Google itself developed for the project includes the terms “student protest” and “Nobel Prize” in Chinese, as well as phrases that imply any criticism of China’s President Xi Jinping.
Google would also be compelled to cooperate with Chinese censors in cracking down on posts related to developing social issues, such as the Chinese government’s response to the growing #MeToo movement and the Chinese government’s internment of ethnic minorities.
The prototype app would also make it easier for authorities to track individual users’ searches, which means there is a real danger that Google would be helping the Chinese government to arrest or imprison people. Chinese laws and regulations force tech companies to cooperate fully with inspections by public security officials.
Launching Project Dragonfly would also risk legitimizing China’s vision of the internet, which gives governments absolute control over what information is available to the population and the power to freely access all online data about their citizens.
A recent report by Freedom House found that China is actively exporting its model of internet control around the world by conducting large-scale trainings for foreign officials, providing technology to other governments and forcing international companies to follow its rules even outside China.
In response to criticism over Project Dragonfly, Google has said it is committed to respecting the fundamental rights of its users. However, the company has failed to explain how it would square this commitment with a project that appears to accept censorship and surveillance. The company’s leadership has also tried to shrug off criticism by saying it has simply been exploring the possibility of re-entering the Chinese search market and that it does not know whether it “would or could” launch such a product.
However leaked comments by a senior Google manager suggest that before the project was made public, the company had been working to have Project Dragonfly ready to launch as soon as possible.
“Google needs to stop equivocating and make a decision. Will it defend a free and open internet for people globally? Or will it help create a world where some people in some countries are shut out from the benefits of the internet and routinely have their rights undermined online?” said Joe Westby.
“If Google is happy to capitulate to the Chinese government’s draconian rules on censorship, what’s to stop it cooperating with other repressive governments who control the flow of information and keep tabs on their citizens?
As a market leader, Google knows its actions will set a precedent for other tech companies. Sundar Pichai must do the right thing and drop Project Dragonfly for good.”

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