ILO launches project to combat forced labor

Published On: February 14, 2017 12:20 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Feb 14: The International Labor Organization (ILO) has launched a project 'From Protocol to Practice: A Bridge to global action on Forced Labor (The Bridge Project)', aiming to combat slavery and forced labor systems in Nepal. 

Speaking at a workshop organized in Kathmandu on Monday, Richard Howard, the director at ILO Country Office for Nepal, said that Nepal was chosen a pilot country for the project along with three other countries -- Malaysia, Peru and Mauritania -- as part of the implementation of the ILO standards on forced labor. 

“The project will have focus on ending the forced labor systems and creating good quality jobs in Nepal for those facing extreme form of exploitation,” Howard said, addressing the workshop. 

The project funded by the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) will, among others, strengthen the capacity of line ministries to develop, implement and monitor policies and national action plans on forced labor, and increase public awareness on forced labor. The project that will continue till September 2019 with a budget of US$ 476,000 also plans to provide direct support to forced labor, particularly freed Haliyas in Kanchanpur and Bajura districts, for improving their livelihood.  

A survey of forced labor conducted by the ILO in 12 districts across the country has found 12 percent forced labor in general, while 74 percent households of Haliya to be affected with forced labor condition. 

Narayan Bhattarai, the national coordinator of the project, said that the project aims to implement the provisions laid down in the protocol on forced labor that the ILO adopted in 2014. Nepal has yet to ratify the protocol on forced labor that supplements the Forced Labor Convention, 1930.

According to the ILO, 21 million men, women and children today are in forced labor who are trafficked, held in debt bondage or working in slavery-like conditions. Likewise, 90 percent of the victims are said to be exploited in the private economy. The protocol was adopted to provide specific guidance on effective measures to be taken to eliminate all forms of forced labor, in the areas of prevention, protection of victims and access to justice, according to experts on forced labor. 

“The protocol lays down provisions like rehabilitation, livelihood and compensation, among other issues, which supplement the earlier two instruments. The project will set groundwork for the country to implement some of these provisions in the protocol which will be a bridge between the protocol and practice,” added Bhattarai. 

According to Bhattarai, all workers in the informal economy who are vulnerable to trafficking, and forced labor as well as stakeholders and policymakers on labor issues will benefit from the project. 

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