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Forced labour & modern slavery

Slavery and forced labour are prohibited under a range of international treaties and conventions. Since 1981, slavery has been prohibited by all individual states. However slavery and forced labour remain prevalent; the 2017 Global Estimates of Modern Slavery state that on any given day in 2016, 40 million people were victims of modern slavery, including 25 million people in forced labour and 15 million people in forced marriage. The Global Estimates of Child Labour 2012-2016, published in 2017, highlights that 152 million children aged 5-17 were estimated to be child labourers. Forced labour is immensely profitable with the illicit profit estimated by the ILO in 2014 at $150 billion a year. Although some may consider it an issue for ‘developing’ states, it is a universal issue with examples coming to light in states with modern legislation designed to tackle the problem.

Article 1(1) of the 1926 Slavery Convention defines slavery as “the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised.” The 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery elaborates on this definition of slavery to include forms of slavery including debt bondage, serfdom, where women are enslaved through marriage in various forms, or children delivered for reward or exploitation. The Guidance issued under Section 54(9) of the UK’s 2015 Modern Slavery Act, defines slavery as ”the status or condition of a person over whom all or any of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised.”

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What National Action Plans say on Forced labour & modern slavery