Thursday, March 30, 2023

UN researchers: Slavery continues in many places

United Nations (AP) – Contemporary forms of slavery are practiced in places around the world, from forced labor for the Uighur minority in China to a marginalized downtrodden in Asia’s south, a UN researcher says Labor and domestic slavery in the countries of the Persian Gulf, Brazil and Colombia.

The Human Rights Council’s Special Investigator, Tomoya Obokata, said that traditional slavery, especially of minorities, still occurs in Mauritania, Mali and Niger in the Sahel African region.

In a report distributed to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, he pointed out that child labour, another form of contemporary slavery, exists in all regions of the world, even in its worst forms.

“In Asia and the Pacific, the Middle East, the Americas and Europe, it is estimated that 4 to 6 percent of children are involved in child labor, and the percentage is highest in Africa (21.6%). The rate in sub-Saharan Africa (23.9%) %), “They said.

Their findings on Uighurs in northwest China’s Xinjiang province came after the United States last December banned imports from the region unless companies could prove the products were made without forced labor. China has been widely accused of systematic and widespread abuse of ethnic and religious minorities in its western region.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry sharply criticized that conclusion by Okobata, a Japanese academic and professor of international law and human rights at the University of Kiel in England.

In the report, Okobata noted that based on an independent analysis of information available from various sources, including victims and government accounts, “he finds it reasonable to conclude that forced labor occurred among Uighurs, Kazakhs in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China.” and other ethnic minorities in sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing”.

He mentioned two systems used in China, the detention of minorities for vocational training, followed by job postings and a poverty alleviation program in which unemployed rural workers are transferred to other jobs. He said this transfer is also taking place in Tibet, where farmers, herders and other rural workers are given low-skilled, low-income jobs.

Although these programs can create jobs and income, as the government claims, Obokata said that in many cases the work is not voluntary and that workers are subjected to excessive surveillance, degrading working and housing conditions, restrictions on movement, threats, etc. Violence, physical or sexual and other inhuman or degrading treatment.

“Slavery may in some cases be included as a crime against humanity, which warrants further independent analysis,” he said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin accused Obokata of “believing in lies and misinformation about Xinjiang spread by the United States and other Western countries and anti-Chinese forces”.

He also accused Obokata of abusing his authority as a Special Investigator and of “maligning China and acting as a political tool for anti-Chinese forces”. He accused unknown “forces” of misinformation about forced labor to undermine Xinjiang’s prosperity and stability, and to stifle China’s development and revitalization.

Obocata said there are also minorities in Latin America who are subject to forced labor, pointing to rural areas in Brazil, including the Amazon, where “slavery is closely linked to economic activities that cause environmental devastation, such as that mining and illegal logging.” He said most of the victims were men of African descent and with low levels of education.

The report also mentions two other forms of contemporary slavery, child or forced marriage and sexual slavery.

Rates of child marriage have skyrocketed in marginalized communities such as the Roma minority in South-Eastern Europe. In some parts of the Balkans, half of Roma women between the ages of 20 and 24 were married before the age of 18, compared to an average of 10% in their countries.

Official data in the UK suggested that the majority of forced marriages were linked to Pakistan and to a lesser extent with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Somalia.

Obokata said that in other regions, Boko Haram has forced Christian women and girls to convert to Islam and marry. Nigeria has high rates of forced or child marriage among certain minority ethnic groups, 74.9% among Kambari and 73.8% among Fulfoods, he explained.

Forced marriage is also a concern in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa; Cambodia, India, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam in Asia, as well as in the Latin American countries Bolivia, Colombia, Honduras and Panama.

As for sexual slavery, which has been particularly notable in conflicts and humanitarian crises, Obokata pointed to more than 6,500 women from the Iraqi Yazidi minority who were allegedly captured by Islamic State group fighters in 2014, who used rape as a weapon of war against them. , It says that some 2,800 Yazidi women and children are still missing or in captivity.

In Ethiopia, Obokata said, minority women from the northern regions of Tigre, Amhara and Afar have faced rape, sexual mutilation and other forms of sexual violence by parties in armed conflict.

In northern Nigeria, Boko Haram persecutes mainly liberal Christians and Muslims for forms of slavery that include sexual slavery.

In Myanmar, women from the Rohingya Muslim minority have been subjected to “systematic sexual violence by the country’s security forces, which could be considered a war crime or a crime against humanity,” she said.

Despite the persistence of contemporary forms of slavery among minorities, Obokata said that governments, national human rights bodies, civil society organizations and regional and other groups have “played an important role in preventing the exploitation of minorities.”

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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