Legislation prohibiting forced and bonded labour
The constitutions of most countries contain provisions relating to fundamental rights which include injunctions that "no person shall be held in slavery or servitude" and "no person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour" or to the effect that no person shall be compelled to perform work or render personal services without his or her full consent and/or without fair compensation. Some constitutions deal with forced labour under general provisions on the right to work, stipulating that everyone has the right to freedom of labour and that involuntary labour is prohibited, or that work is an obligation for every citizen but that no one may be unlawfully forced into a specific occupation.
The Constitution of India prohibits a form of forced labour known as Begar, which is "labour or service exacted by government or a person in power, without remuneration". Honduras appears to be the only country in which the Constitution itself deals specifically with children in bondage: "Every child must be protected against every form of abandonment, cruelty and exploitation. No child shall be the object of any type of bondage." Penalties are provided for by law for those who violate the provision.
Many countries devote a section of their labour legislation to forced or compulsory labour. Definitions are often in conformity with the ILO's Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29). In about half the countries where the prohibition of forced labour is provided for in general labour legislation, there are specific penalties for the illegal exaction of work or any form of illegal constraint. In others, such provisions are found under general or penalty provisions of the labour legislation. Labour legislation typically declares that any person who imposes or permits the imposition of forced labour is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of a certain amount of money and/or to imprisonment for some months or years. For example, in the Republic of Korea a person violating the provisions concerning employment of workers through violence, threats, illegal confinement or any other means of unjustifiable mental or physical restraint "shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than three years or suspension of civil rights for a period of not more than five years".
Two noteworthy examples of national legislation outlawing bonded labour are the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, passed in India in 1976, and the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, enacted in 1992 in Pakistan. These statutes represent a real advance in the conception of the problem because they do not only prohibit the bonded labour system, but provide for the rehabilitation of liberated workers and the establishment of broad-based vigilance committees with a mandate to advise and coordinate the implementation of the provisions concerning the identification and rehabilitation of the bonded labourers.
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