Government Needs To Show Political Will For Fighting Modern Day Slavery

October 14, 2004 12:00 AM

Ahead of today's Westminster Hall debate on the UN International Year to Commemorate the Struggle Against Slavery and its Abolition, Liberal Democrat International Development spokesman Tom Brake is urging the Government to help Dalit communities in South Asia who are subjected to a modern form of slavery and to protect children forced into bonded labour. Mr Brake is also calling on the Government to ratify the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families (1990).

"Generation after generation of Dalit communities in South Asia and Africa toil in menial low-paid jobs because of their position at the bottom of the caste system. The Government needs to fund programmes specifically geared towards empowering Dalit communities."

"The Government must also ensure poverty alleviation programmes are targeted towards wiping out the obscene practice of selling children into bonded labour."

On the UN Convention, Mr Brake said,

"The Government is failing to protect those migrant workers who are subjected by their employers to slavery-like conditions. Despite the Government's rhetoric about striking a balance between the enforcement of immigration controls and the rights of migrant workers, the reality is that immigration controls are an excuse for limiting the rights of migrant workers."

"Undocumented migrant workers who are victims of gross exploitation are put on a plane and expelled. They are not allowed to seek redress and access the rights we take for granted under the ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights). The Government must show some political will in helping some of the world's most vulnerable people overcome the plight of slavery in all its modern manifestations."

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