Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Peru's slave labour

A warehouse fire in Lima, Peru last month killed four workers, including two who were trapped inside a padlocked container on the roof. Last month's blaze which tore through several warehouses in the city centre highlighted labour exploitation in the capital and prompted calls for better protection of workers' rights and more labour inspections. Across Peru, forced labour is more commonly linked to the illegal logging industry and illegal gold mines in the Amazon jungle. Girls are also trafficked to these areas for sex work.
The warehouse blaze showed forced labour is more widespread than many Peruvians believe.
Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said the victims were "practically slave workers." An estimated 200,500 people are trapped in modern day slavery in Peru, according to rights group The Walk Free Foundation, the third highest number in Latin America after Mexico and Colombia. The International Labour Organization (ILO), which estimates there are 21 million people in forced labour worldwide. "The tragic fire was shocking. People were outraged," said Teresa Torres, coordinator of ILO's programme against forced labour in Peru. "What's important in this case is that there's justice, and as such those people responsible are punished," Torres said, adding those found guilty could face up to 25 years in prison. "This is more evidence to show that forced labour doesn't just happen in ... remote areas of the Amazon, but it could be happening right in the centre of the capital too," Torres said. "We have information that forced labour is also happening in the north of Peru, in other sectors such as the shrimp fishing industry." She said victims of forced labour were often hidden from view, working on fishing vessels, in small clandestine workshops, commercial agriculture or private homes.

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