Domestic slavery

Judgement on Abortion


Basfar v Wong - The UK Supreme Court has ruled that diplomats cannot hide behind immunity to exploit workers, in a victory for campaigners against modern slavery. Diplomats are normally protected from both criminal charges and civil cases in the countries where they are posted. But the court found a Saudi diplomat accused of exploiting a Filipina domestic worker in London did not have immunity in relation to the allegation.


Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857)- In this ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that enslaved people were not citizens of the United States and, therefore, could not expect any protection from the federal government or the courts. The opinion also stated that Congress had no authority to ban slavery from a Federal territory.


Siliadin v. France - The applicant, a Togolese national having arrived in France in 1994 with the intention to study, was made to work instead as a domestic servant in a private household in Paris. Her passport confiscated, she worked without pay, 15 hours a day, without a day off, for several years. The applicant complained about having been a domestic slave.  The European Court of Human Rights found that the applicant had not been enslaved because her employers, although exercising control over her, had not had “a genuine right of legal ownership over her reducing her to the status of an “object”. It held, however, that the criminal law in force at the time had not protected her sufficiently, and that although the law had been changed subsequently, it had not been applicable to her situation. The Court concluded that the applicant had been held in servitude, in violation of Article 4 (prohibition of slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour) of the European Convention on Human Rights.


People's Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India, (1982) 3 SCC 235- In this judgment, the honourable Supreme Court defined forced labour, while discussing the scope of Article 23 of the Constitution of India, stated: The word force must therefore be construed to include not only physical or legal force but also force arising from the compulsion of economic circumstances which leaves no choice of alternatives to a person in want and compels him to provide labour or service even though the remuneration received for it is less than the minimum wage.


There appears to be no legislation in place in China which prohibits slavery although article 238 of the 1997 Criminal Law prohibits detaining or depriving a person of personal liberty. Article 240 also prohibits acts of abduction, kidnapping, buying, trafficking in, fetching, sending, or transferring women and children for the purpose of selling the victim.


The applicant, who was born to a mother in slavery, was sold to a local chief at age 12. For the next nine years she was subjected to rape, violence, and forced labour without remuneration. When Niger’s Supreme Court failed to convict her "owner" under Article 270.1-5 of the Nigerien Criminal Code, which made slavery illegal in 2003, the applicant brought her case before the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice under Article 9(4) of the Supplementary Protocol A/SP.1/01/05. The court ruled that the applicant had been a slave under the definition in Article 1 (I) of the Slavery Convention of 1926 and that in failing to convict her former "owner," Niger had not upheld its legal responsibility to protect her from slavery under international law. This case was the first ECOWAS ruling on slavery and only the second conviction made under Niger’s 2003 anti-slavery law. The case gained a high level of publicity, setting the precedent for women to fight back against the traditional slavery practices common to Niger and other ECOWAS nations.


Nestlé USA, Inc. v. Doe, The Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling that had allowed six men to sue Nestle USA and Cargill over claims they were trafficked as child slaves to farms in the West African nation of Ivory Coast that supply cocoa to the two giant food companies. Thomas said the six plaintiffs, who are from the nation of Mali, improperly sought to sue under the Alien Tort Statute for conduct that occurred outside the United States. Thomas also said that the plaintiffs had failed to establish that the conduct relevant to the ATS “occurred in the United States ... even if other conduct occurred abroad.”

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