US among nations that practice modern slavery: Report
According to a study issued this week by Walk Free, the United States is one of just 17 nations that still enforce forced labor.
In 1865, the 13th Amendment ended slavery in the United States. It did not, however, abolish forced labor in prisons.
"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist within the United States, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted," it states.
According to a report released this week by Walk Free, a human rights organization, in collaboration with the United Nations' International Labor Organization and International Organization for Migration, the United States is one of only 17 countries that has forced labor, or modern-day slavery.
The organization also stated that there are around 122,000 persons living as contemporary slaves in the United Kingdom, a decrease from 136,000 in 2018. The UK ranks 145 out of 160 countries in the most recent global slavery index.
The data shows that modern slavery is most prevalent in nations with numerous conflicts, nations with forced labor and improper governance.
The US remains one of only 17 countries that still practices forced labor, according to a report by Walk Free, a human rights organization based in Australia.
State-imposed labor takes many forms, ranging from jails, both state and federal, public and private, as in the United States.
Governments can compel individuals to labor under specific situations, such as conscription and times of emergency, under international law. However, "a state exceeds these limits when it compels citizens to work as a punishment for expressing or acting on political views, for the purpose of economic development, or as a means of racial, ethnic, social, or religious discrimination," according to the report's guidelines.
According to the global slavery index, 1 in 150 people in the world are enslaved. The really bad news is that more than half of them live in G-20 countries, the world's richest.
According to Jacqueline Larsen, Walk Free's deputy director and head of global research, state-imposed labor "is one of the forms of modern slavery that could be addressed relatively quickly as it's about state policies."
A 2015 report by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry stated that "the indefinite duration of national service, its terrible conditions — including arbitrary detention, torture, sexual torture, forced labour, absence of leave and the ludicrous pay … make national service an institution where slavery-like practices are routine."
The US has the highest imprisonment rate in the world. According to an American Civil Liberties Union study from 2022, almost two-thirds of convicts in public and private prisons, or approximately 800,000 individuals,
were forced to labor. Many were punished for refusing. According to the ACLU, inmates are paid a pretax hourly average pay of 52 cents, and in other places nothing, billions of dollars are created in goods and services for prisons.
The US scored first among the 17 countries accused of forcing individuals into forced labor.
Court cases challenging involuntary prison labor are ongoing in several states. A 2020 lawsuit by the NAACP against the state of Arizona accused it of sending prisoners to private prisons to "generate revenue and profits for the monetary benefit of corporate owners, shareholders, and executive management."