Despite achieving many success to eradicate the forced labor from the world, there are still 20.9 million people are victims of forced labor. There too exist various forms forced labor in Nepal.
Launching a bridge project from Protocol to Practice, a Bridge to Global Action on forced labor, ILO Nepal expects that the numbers of forced labor will drastically reduce after completion of the project.
With the partnership of Ministry of Land Reform and Management, Ministry of Labor and Employment and Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare, Rastriya Mukta Haliya Samaj Federation and Workers and Employers’ Association, the project will last till September 2019.
Supported by United States Department of Labor (USDOL), the project targets victims of forced labor and trafficking particularly Haliyas, migrants and potential migrant workers.
“This is a very important project as the people affected from forced labor are working with us,” said Richard Howard, director of ILO Nepal. “Out of four countries chosen for the project, Nepal is one of them,” said Howard, addressing the launching ceremony.
One of the aim of the bridge project is to effectively eliminate traditional and modern slavery, forced labor systems and to significantly contemporary forms of forced labor which are often linked to human trafficking.
Although Nepal declared Kamaiya Mukti few years back, there exist one or other forms of forced labor in Nepal. Traditional forms of forced labor Haliya, Haruwa-Charuwa still exist in the far western Nepal.
“This project will implement various intervention programs to eradicate the forced labor from the country. This include awareness and policy advocacy, public awareness campaigns against all kinds of forced labor and ILO Protocol P 29 and recommendation R203. We will also conduct research to collect data, statistics and information on forced labor and trafficking,” said Narayan Bhattarai, National Project Coordinator, ILO Bridge Project in Nepal. “There still exist traditional forms of forced labor in Nepal. As it has link with land-ownership distribution system, there need to reform in land system.”
Although the targeted project beneficiaries are victims of forced labor including freed Haliyas of target districts of Kanchapur and Bajura, all workers in the informal economy who are vulnerable to trafficking and forced labor and all the stake holders and on labor issues including ILO tripartite-plus partners will get benefits.
Forced labor is a big issue around the world as it is a billion rupees trade. “There are 21 million victims of forced labor in the world. Out of them 90 percent of victims are exploited in the private economy and 44 percent of victims have been displaced externally and internally. Profits generated from forced labor is around 150 Billion US$ and most affected sector is sex industry, agriculture, construction, domestic work and manufacturing,” said Oluremi Doherty, Monitoring Officer of Global Bridge Project from Geneva.
In the last centuries, several protocol has passed by ILO. For the first time in 1930, the forced labor convention no 29 issued to address the situation in territories under colonial administration. This protocol was ratified by 178 countries and Nepal ratified it in 2002.
In 1957, ILO issued The abolition of Forced Labor Convention no 105 which is currently ratified by 175 countries. Nepal ratified it in 2007. In 2014, Protocol to Convention no 29 plus recommendation issued but only ten countries has ratified it.
According to Convention 29 and Protocol 29, all work or service exacted under the menace of any penalty and for which the person has not offered himself and herself voluntarily are regarded as a forced labor.
According to protocol 29, member states require to take effective measures to prevent and eliminate the use of forced labor, provide protection to victims, provide appropriate remedies (compensation, sanction and perpetrators).
The protocol also says that a member country needs to develop a national policy, plan of action in consultation with social partners, adopt specific measures against trafficking in persons and cooperate each other.
“As a signatory of protocol, the government is committed to end all forms of exploitation and forced labor from the country. This ILO supported project will help Nepal in this direction,” said a joint secretary from Ministry of Land Reform.