3.5 people for every 1,000 engaged in Forced Labour: ILO Study

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What’s in today’s article?

  • Why in the News?
  • About International Labour Organisation
  • Objectives of ILO
  • Functions of ILO
  • Membership of ILO
  • Core Conventions of the ILO
  • News Summary
  • Forced Labour in India

Why in the News?

A study by the International Labour Organization (ILO), released in Geneva has found that forced labour generates illegal profits worth $36 billion per year.

About International Labour Organisation

  • The ILO was created in 1919, as part of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I, to reflect the belief that universal and lasting peace can be accomplished only if it’s based on social justice.
  • In 1946, the ILO became a specialized agency of the United Nations.
  • The ILO is devoted to promoting social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights, pursuing its founding mission that labour peace is essential to prosperity.
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland

Objectives of ILO

The ILO has four strategic objectives:

  • Promote and realize standards and fundamental principles and rights at work,
  • Create greater opportunities for women and men to decent employment and income,
  • Enhance the coverage and effectiveness of social protection for all, and
  • Strengthen tripartism and social dialogue.

Functions of ILO

  • Creation of coordinated policies and programs, directed at solving social and labour issues.
  • Adoption of international labour standards in the form of conventions and recommendations and control over their implementation.
  • Assistance to member-states in solving social and labour problems.
  • Human rights protection (the right to work, freedom of association, collective negotiations, protection against forced labour, protection against discrimination, etc.).
  • Research and publication of works on social and labour issues.

Membership of ILO

  • The ILO has 187 state members.
  • India is a founding member of the ILO and it has been a permanent member of the ILO Governing Body since 1922.
  • The ILO constitution permits any member of the UN to become a member of the ILO.
  • To gain membership, a nation must inform the director-general that it accepts all the obligations of the ILO constitution.

Core Conventions of the ILO

  • The ILO Governing Body had initially identified eight “fundamental” Conventions, covering subjects that were considered to be fundamental principles and rights at work.
  • These 8 core conventions are:
    • Forced Labour Convention
    • Abolition of Forced Labour Convention
    • Equal Remuneration Convention
    • Discrimination (Employment Occupation) Convention
    • Minimum Age Convention
    • Worst forms of Child Labour Convention
    • Freedom of Association and Protection of Right to Organised Convention
    • Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention

News Summary

  • A study by the International Labour Organization (ILO) has found that forced labour generates illegal profits worth $36 billion per year.
  • For the study, surveys have been conducted among workers, including Indian workers in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
  • The report, titled ‘Profits and Poverty: The economics of forced labour’, also estimates that traffickers and criminals are generating close to $10,000 per victim, up from $8,269 (adjusted for inflation) a decade ago.
  • The report also said forced commercial sexual exploitation accounts for more than two-thirds (73%) of the total illegal profits, despite accounting for only 27% of the total number of victims in privately imposed labour.
  • There were 27.6 million people engaged in forced labour on any given day in 2021, the report said, meaning 3.5 people for every 1,000 people in the world.
  • The report also stresses the urgent need for investment in enforcement measures to stem illegal profit flows and hold perpetrators accountable.
  • It has recommended for strengthening legal frameworks, providing training for enforcement officials extending labour inspection into high-risk sectors, and better coordination between labour and criminal law enforcement.

Forced Labour in India

  • Article 23 of the Constitution of India- Prohibition of Traffic in Human Beings and Forced Labour provides that traffic in human beings and beggar and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited, and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable by the law.
  • The National Human Rights Commission of India defines bonded labour as a form of slavery known as debt bondage, which has persisted for centuries.
  • Bonded labour is a form of modern slavery which has been illegal in India since 1976, when the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act was passed.
  • Though it was declared illegal, each year hundreds of fresh cases of bonded labour and trafficking for work are reported.
  • In 2021, around 11 million people in India were in modern slavery, which includes forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, other slavery and slavery-like practices, and human trafficking
  • In July 2016, the Union government told Parliament that in its 15-year vision to achieve “total abolition of bonded labour”, it would identify, release and rehabilitate around 18.4 million bonded labourers by 2030.
  • Union government data show that 315,302 people were released from bonded labour in over four decades between 1978 and January 2023, of which 94% have been rehabilitated.

Q1. What do you mean by Bonded Labour?

A person becomes a bonded labourer when their labour is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan. The person is then tricked or trapped into working for very little or no pay. Bonded labour is prohibited in India by law vide Articles 21 and 23 of the Constitution.

Q2. What does Article 21 say?

According to Article 21: “Protection of Life and Personal Liberty: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.” This fundamental right is available to every person, citizens and foreigners alike.