Slavery remains despite year of successes

2 December 2008

On the UN’s International Day for the Abolition of Slavery (Tuesday 2 December), it is important to be reminded that slavery remains a reality for a minimum of 12.3 million people across the world.

However, despite the enormity of the problem, there have been successes this year in combating slavery. The highest profile success pays testimony to the bravery of a single woman. Hadijatou Mani, aged only 24, successfully sued Niger in October for failing to protect her from slavery. The decision by the regional ECOWAS court has the potential to impact on tens of thousands of slaves across the whole of West Africa.

It is essential the law continues to protect the victims of slavery and to prosecute those who profit from it. In Immokalee, Florida five farm bosses have pled guilty to enslaving and brutalizing Mexican and Guatemalan workers and are expected to each serve a minimum of 12 years in prison and pay fines of up to $1 million.

Nepal’s action to free 20,000 people from bonded labour by abolishing the centuries-old practice of Haliya is another momentous step in combating bonded labour, which remains the most prominent form of slavery across the world.

Closer to home after pressure from charities, including Anti-Slavery International, the UK Home Office decided against proposals to revoke a rule that protected migrant domestic workers from the risk of becoming trapped in slave-like conditions.

The UK Government is also committed to ratifying the Council of Europe convention on trafficking by the end of the year. This should finally result in the end to the detention and deportation of the victims of trafficking.

Though with the recent announcement to close the UK’s only dedicated anti-trafficking unit, the London Metropolitan Police’s Human Trafficking team by April 2009, it is clear there are still obstacles ahead in the fight to eliminate slavery in all its forms.

Help Anti-Slavery International take action to combat slavery by joining our campaigns network .

Aidan McQuade , Director, Anti-Slavery International


  • Anti-Slavery International is the world’s oldest human rights organisation and campaigns for the eradication of slavery, exposing current cases, supporting local organisations to release the minimum 12.3 million people in slavery, and the implementation of international laws against slavery. For further information please contact Paul Donohoe, Anti-Slavery International’s Press Officer, on 020 7501 8934 or email¬†