50 for freedom, the campaign against modern slavery

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Rubén Escobar (
Worker suffering slavery conditions. Photo: 50 for Freedom

Worker suffering slavery conditions. Photo: 50 for Freedom

The International Labour Organisation launches an initiative to raise awareness.

Modern slavery is all around us, but most people don’t even realise it”. This is how the 50 For Freedom Campaign tries to break with some myths and, at the same time, raise awareness to change 21 million lives around the world. In this way, the organisers are mobilising people around the world to call on governments to ratify the ILO’s Protocol on Forced Labour. At the moment, 17 countries have ratified the protocol in a campaign that already has more than 23.828 supporters. In a nuthsell, the goal of the campaign is to persuade 50 countries to ratify the protocol by 2018.

The Protocol on Forced Labour is a legally-binding treaty that requires governments to take new measures to tackle modern slavery in all its forms. The protocol works on three main levels: protection, prevention and compensation. It requires countries to ensure the release, recovery and rehabilitation of people living in modern slavery. In addition, it also protects them from prosecution for any laws made to break while they were in slavery. Countries that ratify the Protocol will have to make sure that all workers in all sectors are protected by legislation. Moreover, the ILO’s Protocol also guarantees victims access to justice and compensation.

Slavery is a thing of the past? According to the 50 for Freedom Campaign it is not. “Slavery has ancient roots in history and still exists today in many different forms”, said on their website. Some of the examples they give are human trafficking, bonded labour and forced domestic work with over 21 million children, women and men affected by these practises. Another myth they want to discredit is the one saying that modern slavery only happens in the developing world. There are over 1.5 million people working in slavery-like conditions in Europe, North America, Japan and Australia, according to the 2012 Global Estimate of Forced Labour report.

The 50 for Freedom Campaign is led by the International Labour Organisation and its partners, the International Trade Union Confederation and the International Organisation of Employers. Some of its partners supporting the campaign are Caritas Internationalis, Free the Slaves, Focus on Labour Exploitation, Migrant Forum in Asia, the International Organisation for Migration and the Institute for Human Rights and Business

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