Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Laurent Gbagbo in ICC custody at The Hague

Laurent Gbagbo, former president of Ivory Coast, was flown to The Hague on Tuesday, 29.11.2011 to stand trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), for alleged crimes against humanity committed during the bloody post-election violence that erupted in the Ivory Coast in November 2010.

An Ivorian plane believed to be carrying the former leader landed at 4am on 30.11.2011 in Rotterdam, second largest city in the Netherlands. [Source].

Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to step down after a disputed presidential election plunged Ivory Coast into a six-month armed conflict that reportedly killed 3000 people and displaced many more. Horrific crimes allegedly committed by Gbagbo's forces include, extrajudicial killings, gang rapes, abductions and enforced disappearances.

There were loud calls for Laurent Gbagbo to stand aside in the interest of peace and human rights, but he refused to comply. Even the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) urged Gbagbo to surrender power.

One month into the violence, the ICC warned all parties involved in the conflict that perpetrators of crimes under the jurisdiction of the court would be prosecuted.

In March 2011, president Obama urged Laurent Gbagbo in a video message to follow "the example of leaders who reject violence and abide by the will of the people."

Laurent Gbagbo ignored all these calls.

Then on Monday, 11 April 2011, the inevitable happened. Gbagbo was arrested by forces loyal to his rival, Alassane Ouattara, backed by French forces. He was humiliated and held under house arrest until he was transferred to The Hague.

He is now in the custody of the ICC, on charges of crimes against humanity.

In December 2010, I said power struggle endangers lives and perpetrators of crimes in Ivory Coast would eventually have their day in a national or international court. Hence, the decision to bring Laurent Gbagbo to justice is welcomed. However, he would have been tried in Ivory Coast. His transfer to The Hague reveals that the Ivorian justice system is flawed and unable to grant the former president a fair trial.

It is important to remember that not only Gbagbo is responsible for crimes during the violence. Both parties sides in the conflict allegedly committed crimes. Forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, current president of Ivory Coast, also allegedly committed atrocious crimes, including killing across ethnic lines. The ICC should investigate these allegations and bring perpetrators to book. Selective justice would undermine national unity in Ivory Coast - a country that currently enjoys fragile stability. Accused individuals should be tried in national courts and should be flown abroad only when national courts are incapable of delivering justice for victims of atrocious crimes.

Gbagbo is the first head of state indicted by the ICC to arrive at The Hague to stand trial. [Source]. He has made history for the wrong reason.

The ouster of Gbagbo and Egypt's longtime despot, Hosni Mubarak, earlier this year sparked a debate with an unusual question: Laurent Gbagbo or Hosni Mubarak? Both men have unenviable records. Join the debate.

*Photo: Wikipedia.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Let's End Violence Against Women

Violence against women is endemic in the world today. Many women endure acts that result in "physical, sexual or psychological harm" perpetrated by strangers or individuals familiar to them. Violence against women includes acts of cruelty such as rape, torture, beatings, verbal abuse and many other indignities. Women are victims of violence both in armed conflict and peacetime; in public and in the privacy of their homes. In a bid to raise awareness about the plight of women around the world, the United Nations designated November 25 as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. According to the UN, up to 70 per cent of women experience violence in their lifetime. November 25 was chosen because on this date, in 1960, three women were assassinated on the orders of Rafael Trujillo, autocratic ruler of Dominican Republic (1930-1961). The three women were sisters. Their names were:
  • Patria Mercedes Mirabal
  • Marja Argentina Minerva Mirabal
  • Antonia Maria Teresa Mirabal.
The "Mirabal sisters" are the face of "victimization of women" around the world, and their story is a constant reminder why there is an urgent need for a coordinated fight to end violence against women.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is followed by "16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence." [Source]. Hence 25 November to 10 December is dedicated to ending violence and other forms of human rights abuses against women. Activities designed to achieve this goal, such as workshops, press conferences, demonstrations, marches, vigils, sensitization campaigns, just to name a few, are encouraged during this period.

According to Amnesty International, the theme for the 16 days activism, 2011, is "from peace in the home to peace in the world: Lets Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women." This year, the organization's focus is on 5 countries, namely: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Afghanistan, Japan and Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire). Visit Amnesty International's website and find out how you can help end violence against women and girls in these countries.

If you're a blogger, dedicate some time and space on your blog during this period to shine the spot light on violence against women. A simple blog post could go a long way in promoting women's rights. Take action to end violence against women.

You could also show support for the cause on your Facebook page or on Twitter. Every action taken to advance the cause counts.

"Joining in the efforts to stop violence is everybody's responsibility. Governments, private enterprises, civil society groups, communities and individual citizens can all make essential contributions. Men and boys must be active in encouraging respect for women and zero tolerance for violence."
- Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women.

UPDATE (1.12.2011): I came across the following compelling ad about the impact of domestic violence against women.

"Un homme qui frappe sa femme apprend la violence à ses enfants" means that a man who hits his wife teaches violence to his children.

*Photo of Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General. [Source].

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Norway: School groups students based on race

Racism has to do with treating, perceiving or differentiating people based on race, color, descent, nationality or ethnicity. It is commonly associated with other illegalities, such as discrimination, xenophobia, killings, segregation, just to name a few. Racism is a social ill that is internationally condemned and outlawed in many countries. On the international stage, governments are obligated under international law to eliminate racism and racial discrimination in all its forms. Norway is one of the many states with a legal obligation to eliminate racism and racial discrimination within its borders. Despite Norway's obligation, a school in the Scandinavian country reportedly groups students based on race.

According to The Local, ethnicity determined where students sat in one Norwegian high school. This has been the practice in the school until the principal was ordered to "re-do the arrangement" after the school became popular for the wrong reason.

As you would expect, the school attempted to justify this glaring case of institutionalized racism.

The Local reports that teachers said their grouping was due to the "flight" (running away) of "ethnic Norwegian" students to other schools.

This is of course a deeply flawed excuse.

It is the responsibility of schools in Norway to teach and encourage so-called ethnic Norwegian students to study in communion with children from other backgrounds. Schools should not facilitate racial segregation.

Norwegian parents on their part should prepare their children for a globalized world where civilized people work together, irrespective of race, color or ethnicity. Moving children to "white" schools makes them unprepared to face the realities of life.

Norway ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on 6 August 1970. This landmark convention defines racial discrimination as "any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, colour, descent, or nationality, or ethnic origin..."

It remains unclear whether the school in question made any "exclusion, restriction, or preference". Also unclear is the purpose of the grouping. The school clearly made a "distinction" based on race, colour, descent, nationality or ethnic origin.

Segregation could have damaging psychological and social effects on kids in minority groups.

The good news is that the school is to stop grouping students based on race [Source].

The grouping of students based on race should not have happened in the first place.

UPDATE - 29.11.2011: The school in question has been identified by Mail Online as Bjerke Upper Secondary School (Bjerke videregående skolein Oslo, Norway.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Racism Poll: Most Finns see Finland as racist

Since the True Finns (Perussuomalaiset) - a far-right anti-immigration political party with strong views on Islam and the eurozone - made shocking gains during the April 2011 parliamentary election in Finland, there have been concerns about growing racism and intolerance in the Nordic country. Some have argued that racism is not a problem in Finland, but a recent poll published by Helsingin Sanomat on 12.11.2011 debunks this argument and reveals that racism is in fact "bubbling up." Most Finns who participated in the poll said there is "much" or "fair amount" of racism in Finland.

According to the poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat, majority of Finns (two-thirds) see Finland as a racist country.

The results of the poll, as reported by Helsingin Sanomat, Finland's leading daily newspaper, reveal that supporters of the True Finns are "most willing to concede negative attitudes toward minorities".

Minority groups most affected by racism and intolerance in Finland are Somalians, Muslims in general and the Roma. The Roma, a minority group with a long history of discrimination in Europe, are "disliked" the most, according to the poll.

The April 2011 parliamentary election in which the True Finns made huge political gains was a signal that more and more people in Finland are hardening their views on immigration and Islam, as well as their attitudes toward people who look different. This eyeopening racism poll adds weight to this concern.

However, all hope is not lost.

There are many voices of reason and tolerance in Finland. Many Finns of goodwill have spoken out against racism and expressly condemned intolerance in all its forms. This includes President Tarja Holonen who has repeatedly condemned racism and urged Finns to defend victims of racism. Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen has also taken a stand against racism in the name of immigration policy. He has expressed concern that "fundamental values" are being called into question in Finland.

In the words of president Halonen, "our own everyday behaviour and everyday courage" are instrumental in the fight against racism.

Ordinary people should step up to the plate and say NO TO RACISM whenever it shows its ugly face - be it in a bus, bus stop, restaurant, school or workplace. Silence emboldens perpetrators.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shell destroys livelihood and environment in Niger Delta, Nigeria

"I don't think anything will grow there in the next 20 years. Nothing planted will grow. The land is wasted. Oil kills everything."
[A resident in Bodo, Ogoniland, Niger Delter, told Amnesty International, May 2011].

On 20 April 2010, what became widely known as the "BP oil spill" took the world by storm. It all started when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, killing 11 people in what has been termed the "largest oil spill in US history." The role of the media, pressure from environmentalists and bold action by the Obama administration culminated in BP, the oil company involved, setting aside a huge sum of money - $20 billion - to compensate victims. One year after the disaster, BP had spent more than $13 billion on clean-up their mess. [Source]. Elsewhere, in a "forgotten" part of the world, thousands of people and businesses affected by oil spills are not that "lucky" to have wide media coverage of their plight and a government that protects them. In the Niger Delta, an oil-rich region in Nigeria, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, is getting away with oil spills that have reportedly harmed thousands of people and destroyed their livelihoods.

According to a report (in PDF format) by Amnesty International, there have been two "major" oil spills that have disrupted the lives of 69,000 people in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Three years after the spills, Shell has failed to clean up the mess and compensate the victims. This is a far-cry from the situation in the Gulf of Mexico where BP was forced to setup a compensation fund and clean-up within months.

Amnesty International USA reports that the lives of thousands of poor Nigerians, including farmers, fishermen and people who trade fish, have been "directly affected" by the oil spills of August and December 2008. Oil pollution poses a health risk in the region.

Shell's failure to clean up the oil spill violates international standards, Nigerian law and the right to health and safety of thousands of Nigerians affected by the oil spill.

Shell has violated its corporate social responsibility in the Niger Delter. In the words of Amnesty International USA, the company should own up and pay up to clean up the Niger Delta.

The administration of President Goodluck Jonathan should emulate the bold and swift action taken by the Obama administration against BP, and restore the rights and livelihood of Nigerians in the affected region.

According to Amnesty International USA, "significant responsibility for the ongoing human rights abuses in the Niger Delta rests with the government of Nigeria" and "substantial responsibility also rests with Shell."

African leaders should do more to protect their people from violations perpetrated by big oil and mining corporations.

You are encouraged to take action to help restore the economic, social and cultural rights of victims of Shell oil spills in Nigeria. Tell Shell to "own up, pay up and clean up their mess." Sign a petition by Amnesty International USA addressed to the Chief Executive Officer of Royal Dutch Shell.

Side note: The next time you stop at a Shell gas/petrol station to buy fuel or lubricants for your car, remember that the company has contributed enormously to environmental damage and human suffering in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, and is reluctant to clean up and compensate victims. If you care about human rights and the environment, and dedicate time to read more about Shell and its operations in the Niger Delta, precisely in Ogoniland, you'd be so outraged that you'd reconsider fueling your car at Shell.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Libya: Asylum for Saadi Gaddafi by Niger points to a broken Rule of Law

First Published in: Dunia Magazine

Saadi Gaddafi, third son of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the ousted and slained long-time leader of Libya, has reportedly been granted asylum on "humanitarian grounds" by one of Libya's neighbors - the Republic of Niger, a landlocked country in west Africa. Although one of the poorest countries in the world, Niger seems to know something about human rights and the international law principle of not returning asylum seekers to countries where they might be persecuted, tortured or killed. The country's decision to grant Saadi asylum points to a broken rule of law in a "liberated" Libya.

When opposition forces, backed by NATO, stormed Tripoli during the historic 2011 pro-democracy uprising, Muammar Gaddafi, members of his family and his close associates reportedly fled the city that fell without much resistance. As pressure mounted on the 42-year-old regime, some members of the Gaddafi family fled across Libya's borders into neighboring countries.

Some Gaddafis, including Aisha, the only daughter of the Muammar Gaddafi and his wife, fled to Algeria. Saadi Gaddafi, a businessman, former professional soccer player and third son of Muammar Gaddafi fled south to Niger.

The authorities in Niger decided to grant Saadi asylum - less than a month after his father and brother were illegally killed by opposition fighters in Sirte. (It is worthy to remember that the murdered Gaddafis were treated with dishonor even in death, as their bloodied bodies were displayed like trophies for a couple of days, in a meat store in Misrata - in violation of Islamic norms).

Saadi is wanted in Libya for alleged crimes committed during the infamous rule of his father, but it is unclear how he would be treated upon return to answer the charges. The world witnessed the treatment received by two members of his family last month, in the hands of opposition fighters.

States are expected to cooperate with each other to bring perpetrators of crimes to justice. In this vein, it is true that Niger was expected to cooperate with the National Transitional Council (NTC) of Libya - by returning Saadi to face justice for alleged crimes during the Gaddafi era.

However, events in Sirte, Libya, on 20 October 2011, following the capture of Muammar Gaddafi, put the spot light on a broken rule of law in Libya and the NTC's inability and/or unwillingness to guarantee safety and humane treatment of wanted Gaddafi children and Gaddafi supporters in post-Gaddafi Libya.

Disturbing images of the operation that ended an era in Libya, shocked human rights groups, rights advocates and several people across the world... including those with only an iota of respect for human life. Raw video footage from the scene revealed that Gaddafi was captured alive, beaten by an angry mob and killed without due process. Autopsy results later revealed that Gaddafi died as a result of a single gunshot to the head. It remains unclear who pulled the trigger. Even more disturbing is the fact that many Libyans are not interested in calls for the killer to be brought to justice for acting outside the law.

One of Muammar Gaddafi's sons, Muatassim Gaddafi, captured on the same day, was also killed in the custody of opposition forces.

According to human rights groups, many supporters of Gaddafi and black Africans accused of supporting the infamous regime faced persecution, torture and summary killings by anti-Gaddafi forces. The perpetrators of atrocious crimes committed against supporters and perceived supporters of Muammar Gaddafi walk free in a liberated Libya, yet there are loud calls for Gaddafi loyalists to face justice. This double standard undermines "national unity" what justice is all about.

Drawing from events that led to the death of Muammar Gaddafi, it is reasonable to conclude that if returned to Libya as requested by the NTC, Saadi Gaddafi could face "vigilante justice" like his father, brother and other supporters of the deposed regime.

International human rights law demands that individuals seeking asylum with "well-grounded" fear of persecution, torture or any other form of degrading treatment in their country of origin should not be returned. This law protects every asylum seeker, including children of the most ruthless dictators.

Every individual has the right to equal protection of the law.

After watching the gruesome treatment of his father and brother in Sirte on 20 October 2011, Saadi Gaddafi has "well-founded" fears to return home and is entitled to protection by Niger.

Asylum for Saadi on "humanitarian grounds" is therefore in the interest of human rights and in line with international law.

The killing of Muammar Gaddafi did not represent justice and the rule of law. It would have been great to see Gaddafi face his victims in a court of law.

The NTC should focus of building a legal system that works. Investigation and trial of those responsible for the unlawful killing of Muammar Gaddafi and Muatassim Gaddafi is a good place to start. Other crimes, well-documented by organizations like Human Rights Watch (HRW), committed during the 8-month-long conflict, by forces loyal to Gaddafi and anti-Gaddafi fighters should also be impartially investigated. Perpetrators from both sides should bear the full weight of the law. Failure to show that a liberated Libya respects the rule of law would lead to asylum for many more individuals wanted for crimes committed during the dark years of the Gaddafi regime.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Devastating impact of torture on victims (Video)

The UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  defines torture in Article 1 as:
"any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third party has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination or any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity."
The impact of torture on victims is devastating and far-reaching, with both short term and long term physical and psychological consequences. The impact of torture is aptly captured in a short video sponsored by the European Union.

Watch the 46-second-long compelling video designed to raise awareness about the damaging impact of torture.

International law prohibits torture in all its forms under every circumstance whatsoever. In other words, freedom from torture is a non-derogable right, as laid down in article 2(2) of the Convention Against Torture.

Despite this strong prohibition, state-sponsored torture, or torture authorized by public officials prevails in many countries.

When talking about torture, the U.S, a free country with a shameful record of torture abroad, comes to mind.

It is known that many people have been tortured with the "consent or acquiescence" of top U.S. officials, including former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld.

The US is party to the Convention Against Torture and therefore has an obligation to prevent acts of torture and punish perpetrators. Despite this obligation, the U.S. perpetrated untold acts of torture, with impunity, against  some of its citizens and citizens of other countries under its custody. The evidence against the state officials who authorized acts of torture is overwhelming but there has been lack of will to bring them to justice in a national or international court. This has weakened the voice of the U.S. in international human rights discourse.

The books have not closed on the role played by George Bush and other members of his administration in so-called "enhance interrogation techniques" against detainees in U.S. custody. In October 2011, Amnesty International urged Canada to arrest and prosecute George W. Bush. The fight against torture and its perpetrators continues.

George W. Bush is arguably the "official" face of torture, especially after he admitted authorizing torture and attempted to justify the immoral and illegal practice in his first interview after leaving the White House.

Torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment has devastating consequences on victims. It should be eradicated and the dignity of survivors should be restored.

June 26 is International Day in Support of Torture Victims.

*Photo: The New York Times.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Let's Fight Racism campaign

Racism is a social ill that preys on millions of individuals, including unsuspecting children, around the world in both "free" and "not free" societies. It's one of the many indignities suffered by innocent individuals struggling to make a decent living in many countries, both "democratic" and "undemocratic". Victims of racism are uncountable, the perpetrators are within reach, but somehow the internationally recognized violation continues unabated. In a bid to combat and eradicate racism, xenophobia and intolerance, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is promoting a campaign titled "Let's Fight Racism!"

According to information posted on the campaign website, "each and everyone of us plays a role in either contributing to or breaking down racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes." It's impossible to disagree with this assertion.

The website showcases a couple of compelling images and encourages supporters to share the images with their friends and ask the latter what they see.

In response to the call for action, I chose the following image:

Looking at the above image, what do you see? Do you see an economist, trafficking victim or immigrant? Is there more than meets the eye?

People should not be judged by the color of their skin, origin, nationality, ethnicity or religion. This has been said and written numerous times, but it's worth reiterating because the simple message has not been understood in many societies.

Many people are constantly being disrespected, abused, and subjected to other forms of unspeakable degrading treatment simply because they look different or have a different culture or religion.

There is more than meets the eye.

Visit Let's Fight Racism campaign website and find out what you can do to fight racism in your community.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chinese-run companies abuse workers' rights in Zambia

"We are working in very bad conditions, horrible conditions."
[ A worker in one of Zambia's Chinese-run copper mines told Human Rights Watch].

It has been said that China is "taking over" Africa, in terms of business and exploitation of natural resources, including timber, copper, coal, just to name a few. Many Africans, including Zambian government officials, welcome China's increasing presence in Africa on grounds that China's investments have created jobs and other benefits in the region. Many have ignored the fact that "jobs" and "benefits" created by a country that has little regard for human rights and freedoms, come at a high price. Chinese-run businesses and companies routinely abuse workers' rights in Africa, in violation of national and international labor standards. A recent report published by Human Rights Watch on 3 November 2011 reveals that Chinese-run copper mining companies in Zambia violate workers' rights and Zambian national laws and regulations.

According to Human Rights Watch, abuses perpetrated by Chinese-run mining companies in Zambia include:
  • Poor health and safety conditions.
  • "Brutally long Shifts" of "arduous labor."
  • Violation of workers' right to organize
Anyone interested in "human rights" must have heard that rights are commonly muzzled in China. Chinese companies have exported not only their expertise and goods to Africa - they have also exported rights violations.

Daniel Bekele, Africa Director at Human Rights watch points out that "many of the poor health and safety practices we found in Zambia's Chinese-run mines look strikingly similar to abuses we see in China."

Allegations of "brutally long" working hours and "slave wages" paid by Chinese-run corporations are disturbing; but even more disturbing are reports that employers terminate work contracts or threaten to fire workers who stand up for their rights and demand better working conditions. This is "coercion" - intended to intimidate and silence abused workers struggling to make a decent living for themselves and their families.

In October 2010, two managers in Chinese-run Collum coal mine in southern Zambia used shotguns to shoot at unarmed workers who were protesting poor labor conditions. The government of Zambia later dropped all charges against the mine shooting perpetrators.

The government of Zambia has failed to protect Zambian workers from abuse and exploitation.

It is true that China's hugh investment in Zambia has created jobs, but it is also true that many workers employed in Chinese-owned companies have been denied their rights as laid down in national and international law.

By failing to end abuse in Chinese-run mines, the Republic of Zambia, a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO), has picked business over "decent work" and human rights. The new government of President Michael Sata, elected in September 2011, should move quickly to restore the dignity of miners and bring abusive employers to justice.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

'Slave-like' conditions for Chinese migrant worker in Sweden

The word "slave" evokes memories of one of the lowest points in human history; an era when millions of unsuspecting human beings were stripped of all rights, bought, sold, transported across continents and forced to work against their will under deplorable and inhuman conditions - without pay or appropriate compensation. This dehumanizing practice is now illegal in every country on the planet, but continues to manifest itself in what has been aptly termed "modern-day slavery." Practices reminiscent of slavery have been recently reported in countries such as the United States, Russia, and other countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Lebanon - just to name a few. The case of a Chinese migrant worker in Sweden who was forced to work under "slave-like" conditions in a restaurant, adds Sweden to the list of countries where modern-day slavery remains a reality.

A 37-year-old Chinese chef, identified as Jiang Zhaloin, collapsed from exhaustion on the streets of Gothenburg, Sweden's second city. The migrant worker collapsed after being forced to work long hours without appropriate compensation. He migrated to Sweden in May 2010 to work as a chef in a restaurant and ended up working 80 hours a week - from 9am till late at night - without overtime pay, sick leave benefits or vacation allowance. He was paid 14,000-15,000 kronor ($2,127-$2,280) a month, but paid almost half of his salary back to the employer - as rent for a "cramped two room apartment" arranged by his employer. The apartment was shared with four other workers employed by the same employer. [Source].

The exploitative conditions under which the Chinese migrant worker worked came to light when he collapsed on the streets. He was reportedly diagnosed with stress-related psoriasis.

The victim's migration to Sweden was arranged by a Chinese agency. He paid the employment agency 70,000 kronor ($10,500).

The Swedish Hotel and Restaurant Workers' Union (HRF) condemned the actions of the restaurant and asked the unscrupulous employer to pay the victim a sum of 391,000 kronor ($59,400) in compensation. The employer agreed to pay. The victim is expected to have received compensation by 15 October 2011.

International human rights standards expressly prohibit slavery or servitude. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states in Article 4 that: "No one shall be held in slavery or servitude...".

Jiang Zhaloin was held in servitude in modern Sweden.

The steps taken by HRF to secure indemnity for the victim should be applauded. Employers and employment agencies should not be allowed to operate with impunity.

The story of Jiang Zhaloin should encourage other migrant workers forced to work under unacceptable  and illegal conditions to seek help.

Sweden, a respected member of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and party to key international human rights treaties that prohibit slavery and promote decent work, has a legal obligation under international law to protect victims of practices akin to slavery within its borders.

*Photo: Wikipedia.

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