ILO says 21 million people in forced labour worldwide


Forced Labour_ILO2Guy Ryder, the director-general of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), has revealed that over 21 million people are engaged in forced labour globally.

Ryder, who spoke at the 104th session of the International Labour Conference holding in Geneva, Switzerland, said this group of people account for over $150 billion in illicit profits annually.

“The victims of the forced labour were mainly found in agriculture, fishing, domestic work, construction, manufacturing, mining and other economic activities.

“Out of these, lots women and girls, in particular, are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation.”

Ryder made reference to Niger, noting that the West African country had ratified the Forced Labour Convention in 1961, after becoming independent in 1960.

He said also that in 2002, Niger also adopted a legislation to outlaw slavery, with provision for strong penalties for anyone convicted of holding slaves.

“However, a survey conducted in 2008 by the National Statistics Institute of Niger and the ILO, found that more than 59,000 adults and children out of a total population of 13 million are victims of forced labour. This is mostly related to vestiges of slavery and deeply-rooted practices of discrimination.”

Ryder, however maintained that global campaign would be launched at the end of the conference to encourage at least 50 countries to ratify the Forced Labour Protocol by 2018.

The ILO director-general also said that to enter into force, the protocol needed ratification by two ILO member-states.

He also noted that the economic case for migration was stronger now than ever before, even amid growing political and social barriers.

“It’s no use in us making an appeal to economic rationality in dealing with migration,” he said. “Because you fall into the trap of treating labour as a commodity if you deal with migration as a purely economic equation. It has economic benefits.

“We need to make sure those are understood. But there is a whole surrounding package of social issues that we have to deal with because we are not dealing with commodities.

“We are dealing with human beings.”