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To end slavery, free 10,000 people a day for a decade, report says

A survivor of slavery who wished to remain anonymous poses for a picture in New Delhi, India March 7, 2018. Picture taken March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
2019-07-17

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SULAIMANI — Ten thousand people would need to be freed every day to eliminate modern slavery over the next decade, according to research on Wednesday (July 17) showing countries making little or no progress in efforts to end forced labor.

Less than half of countries rank forced labor as a crime and most do not regard forced marriage as a crime, said the report by the Walk Free Foundation, an Australia-based anti-slavery group.

More than 40 million people have been estimated to be captive in modern slavery, which includes forced labor and forced marriage, according to Walk Free and the International Labour Organization.

Ending modern slavery by 2030 was one of the global goals adopted unanimously by members of the United Nations four years ago.

But at today's rate, achieving that goal is "impossible", the report said. It would require freeing some 10,000 people each day for the next decade, it said.

"At current progress, we will not be able to eradicate modern slavery by 2030," Katharine Bryant, research manager at Walk Free, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The group assessed 183 governments on such factors as the identification of slavery survivors, criminal justice, support systems and efforts to clean up supply chains.

The worst countries for modern slavery were North Korea and Eritrea, where governments are complicit in forced labor, the report said.

It singled out Libya, Iran, Equatorial Guinea, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo, Russia, and Somalia for lack of action on ending slavery.

Wealthy countries that have taken little action were Qatar, Singapore, Kuwait, Brunei, Hong Kong, and Russia, it said.

Some countries have slowed or slipped backward in their efforts by reducing the number of victims identified, decreasing anti-slavery funding or cutting back on support systems, the report said.

While an estimated 16 million people are trapped in forced labor, only 40 countries have investigated public or business supply chains to look at such exploitation, the report said.

In nearly 100 countries, forced labor is not considered a crime or is a minor offense, it said. About a third of countries ban forced marriage.

On the other hand, Georgia, Nigeria, Ukraine, Moldova, Ethiopia and Mozambique were notable for taking steps to end modern slavery despite their limited resources, it said.

Walk Free called on governments to measure the extent of slavery within their countries as a necessary step toward eradication.

"Ten thousand a day is massive, but a government can eradicate slavery by the hundreds of thousands in strokes," said Andrew Forrest, founder of Walk Free.

 (NRT Digital Media/Thompson Reuters Foundation)