GENEVA | NEW YORK (INPS | GIN) - Mauritania has ratified the 2014 protocol to the Forced Labour Convention (1930), reinforcing thus the global movement against forced labour in all its forms, including human trafficking.
Mauritania follows Niger, Norway and the United Kingdom, as one of the first states to formally commit to implement the Protocol. The Protocol, adopted in 2014 by an overwhelming majority by the International Labour Conference, supplements Convention (No. 29) 1930, requiring States to take effective measures for prevention, protection of victims and ensuring their access to justice and compensation.
The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) estimates there are 21 million victims of forced labour across the world who generate approximately $150 billion in illicit profits annually.
Slavery is a historical practice in Mauritania and both adults and their children are the property of their masters. The Haratin, who make up the main "slave caste", are descended from black African ethnic groups along the Senegal river. They often work as cattle herders and domestic servants.
The West African country has the highest prevalence of slavery, according to the Global Slavery Index, which estimates that 4 percent of the population – or some 150,000 people – are living as slaves.
Hamoud Ould T’Feil Ould Bowbe, Mauritania’s Director General of Labour, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to stamping out forced labour. “The Protocol will strengthen and supplement the framework for penalizing slave or similar forced labour practices, in particular by promoting access to rights, public information and awareness raising among those at risk, including minors and employers, and the development of training enabling professionals to identify and protect victims,” he said.
Slavery was abolished in Mauritania in 1980 and criminalized in 2007. But a 2009 report of the ILO Special Rapporteur concluded that de facto slavery continued to exist in the country.
Aeneas Chapinga Chuma, the ILO’s Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Africa, welcomed Mauritania’s “renewed efforts towards combating slavery-like practices” adding that the ratification of the ILO convention “is a first concrete step in putting in place the legal framework to protect people from the scourge of human exploitation and forced labour”.
According to the ILO; Mauritania has joined the Bridge project, which aims to strengthen the capacity of the relevant ministries and stakeholders to develop, implement and monitor policies and national action plans on forced labour, provide capacity building to improve law enforcement, and support public awareness campaigns to address all forms of forced labour. The four-year project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Labour, will besides Mauritania, also be implemented in Nepal and Peru. [International Press Syndicate – 16 March 2016]
Photo credit: New Europe