Forced labour, also referred to as modern slavery, frequently occurs in regions with limited insight from the outside world. Forced labour includes people who are not free to leave their work without the risk of reprisal; people who have entered into employment under uninformed circumstances, people who automatically are becoming trapped in debt traps or who are not paid a salary as promised. As mines and forests are often isolated from larger communities, the extractive industries account for a considerable proportion of the total 20 to 45 million people that are currently trapped in forced labour.

Some examples

  • North Korea has the largest number of people working in forced labour. According to the Global Slavery Index, 2.6 million North Koreans – one in ten – were working as forced labour in 2018. In most cases, it is the state that forces people to work in slave-like conditions. Forced labour exists in mining, for example in extraction of coal and iron ore.
  • Forced labour occurs in diamond mines in Angola. For example, migrants from Congo Kinshasa work in mines in conditions close to forced labour. Women and children are trafficked for prostitution in mining areas. Criminal networks transport Congolese girls as young as 12 to Angola as forced labour and for prostitution.
  • The Central African Republic comes fourth in the Global Slavery Index of countries where modern slavery is most prevalent. People trafficking, primarily children, for forced labour and sexual exploitation is widespread. Mining, for example of diamonds, and logging are sectors where forced labour occurs.