By Kaitlyn Degnan
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
BRASILIA, Brazil — Human rights groups have published a “dirty list” of 340 Brazilian companies which have been fined by Brazil’s Ministry of Labor and Employment for engaging in employment practices which amount to modern day slavery. The list draws from firms fined between May 2013 and May 2015. Brazil defines slave labor as work “carried out in life-threatening or degrading conditions.” The designation also includes bonded labor, in which a person works without pay to settle a debt with an employer.
50,000 people have been released from slave-like working conditions since the Brazilian government began prosecuting slavery in 1995. According to the International Labor Organization, there about 200,000 people in slave labor in the country. Slavery was abolished in Brazil in 1888.
The list was compiled using Brazil’s Access to Information Act by Reporter Brasil and the Brazilian Institute to Eradicate Slave Labor (InPACTO) in an effort to “enforce society’s right to transparency regarding corporate labor practices.” The list has been published and updated since 2003.
A company’s inclusion on the list has consequences – blacklisted employers face restrictions on the sale of their product and are blocked from government loans. The National Slave Eradication pact of 2005, which has been signed by over 400 banks and companies, institutes a boycott of those on the list.
Pockets of the Brazilian Amazon are home to slave-labor conditions similar to those of the nineteenth century. According to Leonardo Sakamoto, head of Reporter Brasil, “[historically] the worst slave conditions in Brazil have been found in cattle ranches in the Amazon where state power is difficult ot reach and where exploitation is more violent.”
The Inter-American Human Rights Court is currently hearing a case involving 340 men who were trafficked into slavery during the 1990s on a cattle ranch in northern Brazil. The Centre for Justice and International Law and the Pastoral Land Commission (an arm of the Brazilian Catholic Church) brought the case to the Court. Brazil has been accused of having knowledge of the use of slave labor, reported by inspections dating from 1997 to 2000.
Activists hope that the Court’s ruling, the first of its kind, will outline the responsibilities of states to prevent slavery and compensate freed slaves.
For more information, please see:
By Christine Khamis
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
PYONGYANG, North Korea –
The United States has submitted a draft resolution to the Security Council which imposes more strict sanctions on North Korea due to its recent nuclear weapon test and missile launch. The United States is backed by China on the resolution and a vote is expected to take place within the next several days.
The draft resolution calls for U.N. member states to inspect all cargo shipping to or from North Korea. Previously, states only had an obligation to inspect cargo passing through their territories if they had reasonable grounds to suspect that there was any illegal cargo. Any ships under suspicion of transporting illegal goods will be blocked from using ports worldwide.
Additionally, the draft resolution proposes a ban on the transfer of any item to North Korea that could strengthen the capabilities of its armed forces. The supply of fuel for aviation programs will also be banned under the resolution, among other sanctions.
The United States and China held negotiations on the draft resolution for several weeks, followed by talks in Washington this week between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
North Korea has been under sanctions by the United Nations since 2006 due to its continued nuclear tests and rocket launches. It currently is banned from importing and exporting nuclear and missile equipment.
North Korea’s recent missile launch and nuclear test are viewed among the international community as a violation of U.N. resolutions. If the resolution is approved, it will include the strongest sanctions instituted by the Security Council in over two decades.
China previously seemed reluctant to take measures against North Korea as its neighbor and it has differed from the United States in its opinions on what measures to take against North Korea. The United States has argued for punitive measures, while China has caked for more tempered measures. North Korea’s missile launch and nuclear test may have been a factor in China’s newly hardened resolve against North Korea.
North Korea currently does 90% of its trade with China. The draft resolution’s proposed sanctions would not prohibit trade between North Korea and China.
For more information, please see:
BBC News – North Korea: US Submits Tougher Sanctions to UN – 26 February 2016
Reuters – U.S., Backed by China, Proposes Tough N.Korea Sanctions at U.N. – 26 February 2016
The New York Times – U.S. and China Agree on Proposal for Tougher North Korea Sanctions – 25 February 2016
Voice of America – U.S., China Agree on Sanctions Against North Korea – 25 February 2016