Monday, June 16, 2008

Slavery, Servitude, Forced or Compulsory Labour - UDHR, ECHR & UKHRA


The following instruments/laws clearly state the actions of Slavery, Servitude and Forced or Compulsory Labour

are violations of

UDHR Article 4, ECHR Article 4 & UKHRA Article 4.

What does the ECHR state about Slavery and Forced Labour?

ECHR Article 4 - Prohibition of Slavery and Forced Labour, states
1. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.
2. No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.
3. For the purpose of this article the term "forced or compulsory labour" shall not include:
a. any work required to be done in the ordinary course of detention imposed according to the provisions of Article 5 of this Convention or during conditional release from such detention;
b. any service of a military character or, in case of conscientious objectors in countries where they are recognised, service exacted instead of compulsory military service;
c. any service exacted in case of an emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community;
d. any work or service which forms part of normal civic obligations.


In the SLAVERY CONVENTION OF 1926 - "slavery" is

Article I
For the purpose of the present Convention, the following definitions are agreed upon:
1. Slavery is the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised.
2. The slave trade includes all acts involved in the capture, acquisition or disposal of a person with intent to reduce him to slavery; all acts involved in the acquisition of a slave with a view to selling or exchanging him; all acts of disposal by sale or exchange of a slave acquired with a view to being sold or exchanged, and, in general, every act of trade or transport in slaves.

In the
FORCED LABOUR CONVENTION - (No. 29) - Adopted on 28 June 1930 by the General Conference of the INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANISATION, Forced or Compulsory Labour is defined as

Article 2
1. For the purposes of this Convention the term "forced or compulsory labour" shall mean all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily.
2. Nevertheless, for the purposes of this Convention the term "forced or compulsory labour" shall not include:
a. Any work or service exacted in virtue of compulsory military service laws for work of a purely military character;
b. Any work or service which forms part of the normal civic obligations of the citizens of a fully self-governing country;
c. Any work or service exacted from any person as a consequence of a conviction in a court of law, provided that the said work or service is carried out under the supervision and control of a public authority and that the said person is not hired to or placed at the disposal of private individuals, companies or associations;
d. Any work or service exacted in cases of emergency, that is to say, in the event of war or of a calamity or threatened calamity, such as fire, flood, famine, earthquake, violent epidemic or epizootic diseases, invasion by animal, insect or vegetable pests, and in general any circumstance that would endanger the existence or the well-being of the whole or part of the population;
e. Minor communal services of a kind which, being performed by the members of the community in the direct interest of the said community, can therefore be considered as normal civic obligations incumbent upon the members of the community, provided that the members of the community or their direct representatives shall have the right to be consulted in regard to the need for such services.


In the UK GUIDE TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT 1998 - WHAT ARE MY CONVENTION RIGHTS?: Department of Constitutional Affairs. This document states about Article 4:

3.29 You have the absolute right not to be treated like a slave or forced to perform certain kinds of labour.
3.30 This is another fundamental right in the sense that even in times of war or other public emergency, you have the right not to be treated in these ways.

3.31 Article 4 protects you from being held in “slavery” or “servitude”. These are very old fashioned concepts, dating back to Roman times. Being a slave means that someone actually owns you just like a piece of property. Being in servitude is similar, in that you may have to live on the other person’s property, and may be unable to leave, but is different in that the other person does not officially own you.

The UK outlawed all forms of slavery in 1833. Sometimes newspapers (and People) report that a personal servant or other person is held in slavery in the UK. This is against the law and will usually involve a breach of both criminal and civil law.

3.32 Article 4 also protects you from having to perform “forced or compulsory labour”. “Labour” is given a broad meaning, and can cover all kinds of work or service, not just physical work. It is “forced or compulsory” if you are made to do it by the threat of a punishment which you have not voluntarily accepted. The idea could apply to situations where immigrant staff have their passports removed to prevent them leaving work (though, of course, it is not the state who acts in this way).

3.33 The following activities are specifically excluded from being forced or compulsory labour:
• work required to be done in the ordinary course of a prison sentence or a sentence of community punishment
• military service (whether voluntary or compulsory) or substitute civilian service
• community service in a public emergency, or a situation which threatens the life or well being of the community
• normal civic obligations, which have been held to include: – compulsory fire service – maintaining a building if you are a landlord – deducting taxes from your employees’ wages if you are an employer.


In 2001 The ILO's released a report identifying eight different types of Forced Labour, prevalent in the world today and identified the countries where these violations were known.

A "physical abduction" followed by forced labor.
- Congo, Liberia, Mauritania, Sierra Leone and Sudan

Farm and Rural Debt Bondage
When workers see all their wages go to paying for transportation, food and shelter because they've been "locked into debt" by unscrupulous job recruiters and landowners and they can't leave because of force, threats or the remote location of the work sites.
- Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Cote d'Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Togo.

Bonded Labor
Another form of debt bondage, it often starts with the worker agreeing to provide labor in exchange for a loan, but quickly develops into bondage as the employer adds more and more "debt" to the bargain.
- Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.

People Trafficking
When individuals are forced or tricked into going somewhere by someone who will profit from selling them or forcing them to work against their will, most often in sexual trades. Many countries are both "origins" and "destinations" for victims.
- Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, China, Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Ghana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Republic of Korea, Laos, Latvia, Malaysia, Moldova, Myanmar, the Netherlands, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam, Yugoslavia.

Abuse of Domestic Workers
When maids and other domestic servants are sold to their employers or bonded to them by debts.
- Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, France, Haiti, throughout the Middle East.

Prison Labor
The contracting out of prison labor or forcing of prisoners to work for profit-making enterprises.
- Australia, Austria, China, Cote d'Ivoire, France, Germany, New Zealand, Madagascar, Malaysia, United States.

Compulsory Work
When people are required by law to work on public construction projects such as roads and bridges.
- Cambodia, the Central African Republic, Kenya, Burma (also known as Myanmar), Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tanzania, Vietnam.

Military Labor
When civilians are forced to do work for government authorities or the military.
- Burma (also known as Myanmar)


The OFFICE OF HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS in Fact Sheet No.14, Contemporary Forms of Slavery states

The word "slavery" today covers a variety of human rights violations. In addition to traditional slavery and the slave trade, these abuses include the sale of children, child prostitution, child pornography, the exploitation of child labour, the sexual mutilation of female children, the use of children in armed conflicts, debt bondage, the traffic in persons and in the sale of human organs, the exploitation of prostitution, and certain practices under apartheid and colonial regimes.

* * *


Very few cases have reached the courts. Siliadin v. France served as a reminder that although slavery has been abolished throughout Europe for many years the continent is not entirely free, in so far as “domestic slavery” appears to remain a widespread problem.

Siliadin v. France. 73316/01. Council of Europe: European Court of Human Rights. 26 July 2005.

Mohammed Lemine Ould Barar v. Sweden. 42367/98. Council of Europe: European Court of Human Rights. 19 January 1999.


In my post
AA-1177 Identifies The Lies, Deception and Double Standards in a Democracy and Elsewhere.... I cited a couple of cases of Slavery/Enslavement in the United States and the Middle East. Very few cases really do get reported in Europe.

Why are so few cases reported and dealt with in Courts of Law? We know there is a problem.....

Here are some of the reasons, which I have based on my own experiences and observations in the United Kingdom, involving my blood relations and their associates who are from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. I can assure you I have no intent of being identified and associated with these people because of their actions.

I have used the terms Master, Servant and Witness to aid understanding.

  • Servants are unable to escape from their situation and they have no one to turn to, to ask for Help. A Servant may plead/beg for assistance but Witnesses ignore these pleas because the financial/rewards from the Master are far greater.
  • The authorities never check the work and living conditions of foreign servants, who are employed by foreigners from the Middle East. The authorities do not enforce the law. Violating Article 4 is evidence of an uncivilized uneducated human being.
  • Certain Masters and Witnesses regard servants as lowly uneducated human beings who deserve no respect and have no rights.
  • Racism and attitudes towards skin colour exists in many countries. Some people use historical cases of slavery, to justify their attitudes and actions today.
  • Attitudes towards poverty/wealth of people including servants/masters are highly relevant.
  • Unfortunately there are people who enjoy wielding power over others and abusing them. They assume they elevate their status/standing/station in society by degrading and undermining other human beings.

This post has touched on what I consider to be a very important topic. Acceptable and Unacceptable Standards of Behaviour in European Countries today. Which side of the Fence are you Standing?

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