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Asia Pacific Forced Labour Network

A sketch of a ‘labour approach’ to forced labour? Highlights from our community

created Mar 31, 2016 07:05 PM

By Marja Paavilainen, former Chief Technical Adviser, ILO Forced Labour Action in the Asian Region (FLARE project)

It is nearly two years since the launch of the AP-Forced Labour Net. Now, our Community of Practice is preparing to take an indefinite break, and it is a good time to look at some of the highlights of our community.

When we started, the AP-Forced Labour Net had an open agenda that allowed it to respond to the needs of the community. Looking back a common thread however emerges in the different contributions by our community members. These contributions have together sketched out a strategy, which can be called a “labour approach” to forced labour. Let me draw together some of these threads.

The main feature of a labour approach to forced labour – or trafficking in persons or slavery, if those are your preferred terms – is that, as the term suggests, it sees these atrocious practices primarily as labour issues. That is, as criminal labour practices existi ...

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Entering a new era of economic integration and free trade: the importance of eradicating forced labour and human trafficking

created Oct 29, 2015 08:11 PM

By Maurizio Bussi, Director of ILO Decent Work Technical Support Team for East and South-East Asia and the Pacific, 29 October 2015

The issues related to forced labour and human trafficking in the present context of trade liberalization and economic integration are wide and complex. A global labour market is rapidly emerging in which the rights and welfare of workers are becoming more interrelated through the closer linkages that are being created by global production systems and increased capital mobility. This is particularly relevant to the Asia Pacific region which maintains a global primacy with respect to the size and production capacity of its manufacturing and agricultural sectors.

One key aspect of these unfolding trends is the renewed emphasis on efforts at all levels to identify, manage, mitigate and prevent forced labour and trafficking issues particularly when they are directly or indirectly linked to trade agreements and global supply chains. The recently concluded Tr ...

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Money talks: Why compensation could be the best tool in the fight to combat forced labour

created Jul 06, 2015 10:42 AM

By Anna Olsen, Technical Officer, Tripartite Action to Protect the Rights of Migrant Workers in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS TRIANGLE), 6 July 2015

Just last week, we attended the screening of several men who had been repatriated after a long period away. They had been working as fishers and living in very bad conditions. Some gave evidence that would indicate human trafficking, including being tricked on to boats. Some told stories that displayed elements of forced labour. All had been exploited, in one way or another, and the employer had facilitated their return.

Among many tragic stories, one man stood out. Like many of the others, he had returned without any money, without anything to show for his years of work away from his family. And he had returned with a crushing sense of shame that he was, still, empty-handed. During the interviews, he remarked to another returnee next to him, that he wouldn’t be going home to his family, because he had nothing.

Not going home me ...

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Creating the choices needed to end forced labour and child labour

created Apr 29, 2015 03:05 PM

By Simrin Singh, Senior Specialist on Child Labour, ILO DWT for East and South-East Asia and the Pacific, 29 April 2015

The leather tanneries of northern India, and the workers were Muslim. The fishing boats and shrimp peeling sheds of Thailand, and the workers were Burmese. The agricultural lands of Nepal, and the workers were Kamaiyas (a caste of landless bonded agricultural labourers). What do these workers have in common? Sadly, a lot. The world of work for these men and women, and their children is a world where child labour and forced labour are part of the inter-generational reality, where alternative options are seemingly none, where the work is “3D” (dirty, dangerous, and demeaning), and where a centuries old culture of exploitation of minority or underprivileged segments of society is deeply rooted. The fact that child labour and forced labour are illegal unfortunately carries little weight.

Creating choices out of the wretchedness of this world of work is a key part ...

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Exploitation vs. forced labour -- What can we learn from international labour standards?

created Mar 03, 2015 09:47 AM

By Tim De Meyer, Director, ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia, 2 March 2015

I spent some 12 years promoting international labour standards in East and South East Asia.  On many occasions, I was asked whether forced labour and exploitation are the same and, if not, what the difference is between the two concepts. The question is a pertinent one.  It arises, for example, from the definition of “trafficking in persons” in the UNTOC Palermo Protocol, which suggests that exploitation encompasses many more situations than only forced labour: “Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs”.[1]

One may begin to understand exploitation by accepting that, to a degree, exploitation is a legitimate part of any market economy trading goods and services – including labour.  Market economies can ...

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