Slavery in the 21st century

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Slavery in the 21st century

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Traffickers use coercion, deception or the threat or use of violence to lure men, women and children into slavery. They control people through keeping their passports, demanding their labour in return for a debt or through the use of intimidation and threat.

In the UK, people are trafficked into such areas as agriculture, construction, cleaning and domestic work, food processing and packaging, care/nursing, hospitality and the restaurant trade. One case in the report concerns two men recruited in Vietnam to work in a hotel in the UK:

The men had to pay to their agent in Vietnam £18,000 for arranging the job. They came to the UK under the work permit scheme and were promised wages of £4.95 per hour. After their arrival, an agent representing an agency that supplied workers to major hotel chains, met them at the airport and took their passports away from them. The men worked for two months without receiving any pay; all they were given was food. In protest, they tried to go on strike, but almost immediately, their families in Vietnam received threats.

Trafficking for forced labour has been a criminal offence in the UK since 2004, yet there has not been a single prosecution. And the authorities failed to identify any of the cases in Anti-Slavery International's report as victims of trafficking.

People trafficked for forced labour in the UK, are not being identified by the authorities and there is no system of protection or support for the victims of this crime, a new report launched by Anti-Slavery International reveals.

The Council of Europe's Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings is the only international law that guarantees trafficked people protection, including at least 30 days to stay in the country to receive emergency medical and psychosocial help, safe housing and legal advice. Since it was opened for signature in May 2005, 31 countries have signed and two have ratified it; the UK is among those countries that has not signed and has no guaranteed minimum standards of protection for trafficked people. See list of signatories.


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