Cape Verde Law Firm | Carla Monteiro & Associados - Forced labor in the modern world: And its problem in Cape Verde


Saturday, 06 Jun 2020

Forced labor in the modern world: And its problem in Cape Verde

For millennia, in all corners of the world, forced labor was a common practice and was accepted by several peoples. Nowadays, with the evolution of human civilizations, forced labor is considered a crime by the international community, despite the fact that there are millions of people under forced labor worldwide.

According to data from the International Labor Organization, hereinafter ILO, about 21 million people are currently victims of forced labor and children represent a quarter of those victims.

In summary, forced labor corresponds to situations in which people are coerced to work, through the use of violence – physical, verbal, psychological or through the use of subpoena.

Forced labor by its nature constitutes a serious violation of human rights, is one of the main causes of poverty, it constitutes an obstacle to world economic development, especially for the least developed countries, such as Cape Verde.

As part of the fight against forced labor in Cape Verde on April 3, 1979, proceeded to the ratification of Convention No. 29 of the International Labor Organization, on forced or compulsory labor and the ratification of Convention No. 105 of the ILO on the Abolition of Forced Labor..

As part of the fight against forced labor in Cape Verde on April 3, 1979, proceeded to the ratification of Convention No. 29 of the International Labor Organization, on forced or compulsory labor and the ratification of Convention No. 105 of the ILO on the Abolition of Forced Labor.

Indeed, Convention No. 29, in Article 2, it defines slave labor as “any job or service required of an individual, under the threat of any penalty, and for which that individual does not volunteer.”

In this vein, the Cape Verdean Legislator, under the terms of the Cape Verdean Labor Code, typified the acts that substantiate “force work” in its article 14. “No one can be compelled to perform forced labor, meaning the obligation imposed on a person to perform, under the threat of any punishment, a job or service without the victim willingly offering”.

In this sense, we will be faced with a situation of forced labor whenever these three elements are cumulatively verified:

a) The required activity must correspond to a job or a service;

b) The activity or service is provided under the threat of a sanction / punishment;
c) The activity or service is provided, ill-fated, the victim’s absence of will, that is, without the victim willingly offering.

It is important to note that not all jobs in which the victim has no will are forced labor, since they are excluded by the convention itself and the labor law itself. The Chart below offers the main elements or characteristics that can be used to identify forced labor situations in practice.

Identification of Forced Labor in Practice
Lack of consent (involuntary nature of work);Threat of punishment (means of keeping someone in forced labor)
Slavery by birth or by descent from slave / debt bondagePhysical violence against the worker or his family or close people
Abduction or kidnappingSexual violence
Selling from person to another((Threat of) supernatural reprisals
Confinement in the workplace – in prison or in false imprisonmentImprisonment or confinement
Psychological coercion, that is, order to work, supported by a real threat of punishment for disobedienceFinancial punishments
Induced debt (for falsifying accounts, inflated prices, reducing the value of goods or services produced, exorbitant interest rates, etc.)Reporting to authorities (police, immigration authorities, etc.) and deportation
Deception or false promises about types and conditions of workDeprivation of food, housing or other needs
Withholding or non-payment of wagesExclusion of future jobs
Retention of identity documents or personal belongings of valueSuppression of rights or privileges

Forced labor is determined by the nature of the relationship between the worker and the employer and not by the type of activity carried out.

Example: A woman forced into prostitution is in forced labor, in view of the involuntary nature of the work and the threat under which it works, regardless of the legality or illegality of the activity.

It should be noted that forced labor and slave labor are closely linked, since forced labor is a type of slave labor.

For its part, the Cape Verdean Legislator, on the other hand, criminally typified slave labor, under the terms of article 271 of the Penal Code, whose epigraph is slavery, stipulates that:

“Anyone who reduces another person to the state or to the condition of a slave, alienates, assigns or acquires another person or takes possession of it with the intention of keeping him / her in a slave situation will be punished with a prison sentence of 6 to 12 years.”

In view of the problem of forced labor in the world and in Cape Verde, the solution to fight this scourge is to invest in the frequent inspection of companies based in the country, investigate the complaints made, which have as their object forced and / or slave labor, as well as the implementation of combat policies or forced and / or slave labor.

In summary, notwithstanding, the ILO international conventions signed by several countries, forced labor is a reality in these countries and has challenged the authorities in their fight, as forced labor silently violates human rights.

Finally, it is imperative to combat this serious violation of human rights and comply with labor laws so that forced labor does not take place in the future and social justice prevails.

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