THE GLOBAL SLAVERY INDEX 2016 published this information page “as violent conflict escalates and political, economic, social and security spill overs destabilise many countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the profile of victims vulnerable to modern slavery has shifted. Though MENA continues to act as a destination for men and women from Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa who are attracted to the region with promises of well-paying jobs, increasingly Middle Easterners themselves faced exploitation and slavery in 2016. Victims were identified as forced recruits in state and non-state armed groups, as victims of forced marriage and victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Foreign and local citizens were subject to forced labour and debt bondage in service sectors such as domestic work, cleaning, and as drivers and restaurant workers, as well as in construction, agriculture and mechanics.” Slavery in today’s MENA and in the world generally still escapes the media’s radar.
In effect, this sort of affairs is not restricted to the MENA region only as per today the Construction Index of the United Kingdom published this short but significant article on the same but sad subject.
The government’s Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), supported by police, carried out simultaneous swoops on five homes in Barking, Walthamstow, Forest Gate, Ilford and Newham as part of an investigation into the exploitation of eastern European workers.
One man is in custody on suspicion of modern slavery offences and more than 50 people are being treated as ‘vulnerable’ following the early morning raids yesterday (21st February).
The GLAA raids were in response to allegations of labour abuse on construction sites across the capital, threats of violence and false identities being used.
A number of people, all believed to be Romanian or Moldovan nationals, were found to be living at the five addresses that were raided. In one terraced house 23 people were found to be living in cramped conditions, including six women and two young children. Ten have been taken to a reception centre, including two 15-year-old boys.
The arrested man, a Romanian national in his 20s, is being held at Forest Gate Police Station for questioning.
GLAA senior investigating officer Tony Byrne said: “Our capability to investigate and take action to disrupt alleged criminality and labour abuse is increasing. Our priority is to protect vulnerable workers from exploitation and today’s action demonstrates we will act when our intelligence suspects labour offences are being committed.”
The Crown Prosecution Service is this week hosting a three-day summit on modern slavery and human trafficking, with representatives from 15 countries.