HK, NKorea in same league on slavery

Local | Amy Nip 1 Jun 2016

Hong Kong is named alongside North Korea and Iran as governments taking the least action to address "modern slavery," according to an Australia- based global foundation.

Walk Free Foundation's biennial Global Slavery Index, announced yesterday, estimated that 29,500 people in Hong Kong and 45.8 million worldwide are modern slaves.

It also assessed government action to combat it across 167 countries and regions. The index addresses modern forms of slavery, including human trafficking, forced labor, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, and the sale and exploitation of children.

It refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of coercion and violence, with treatment "akin to a farm animal."

In absolute terms, Hong Kong is far behind others: India remains the highest with an estimated 18.35 million enslaved people, followed by China (3.39m), Pakistan (2.13m), Bangladesh (1.53m) and Uzbekistan (1.23m).

But the SAR was lumped together with North Korea, Iran, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan as being the most passive.

The Hong Kong government has taken relatively limited action due to "low level of recognition that modern slavery occurs," the report said, adding the SAR provides limited victim support services and a weak criminal justice network.

Local human rights lawyer Patricia Ho said: "The government repeatedly denies human trafficking [exists] in Hong Kong."

Tina Chan Yim-ting, project manager of Stop Trafficking of People, called for legislation against trafficking, the establishment of safe houses for victims, and for the Security Bureau to initiate dialog.

"When we called the police about some of our injured clients, the officers do not even know what human trafficking is," she said.

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