North Korea leads as global slavery hits 46 million



Almost 46 million people are living as slaves globally with the greatest number in India but the highest prevalence in North Korea, according to the third Global Slavery Index launched on Tuesday with Australian actor Russell Crowe, Reuters reports:

The index, by Australia-based human rights group Walk Free Foundation, increased its estimate of people born into servitude, trafficked for sex work, or trapped in debt bondage or forced labor to 45.8 million from 35.8 million in 2014…..

India has the highest number of people trapped in slavery at 18.35 million, followed by China (3.39 million), Pakistan (2.13 million), Bangladesh (1.53 million) and Uzbekistan (1.23 million), the report said.

In terms of slavery as proportion of the population, North Korea (right) led with 4.37 percent of the hermit country’s 25 million population enslaved. The report noted that North Korea also has done nothing to combat slavery and the state endorses it.

“Though information on North Korea is difficult to verify, pervasive evidence exists that citizens are subjected to state-sanctioned forced labor, including through forced labor as political prisoners and as workers on overseas contracts,” the report states.

The North Korean system is uniquely odious. But like other authoritarian regimes it emphasizes the desire for self-preservation, writes analyst Doug Bandow:

In this sense human rights may be more important than nuclear weapons to Pyongyang. The government might trade away nukes or make other concessions to promote regime security. However, domestic politics, to which human rights is integral, is regime security. Yielding totalitarian control risks turning into political surrender. Thus, to predicate security discussions on human rights concessions is to preclude the former.

Failure to restrain the DPRK, along with understandable horror at its mass violation of human rights, caused some analysts to urge Washington to emphasize improving human rights and overthrowing the Kim dynasty, Bandow notes. For instance, Carl Gershman of the National Endowment for Democracy recently argued that “human rights must come first.” After all, he contended, “The basic issue, therefore, is not transactional but has to do with the nature of the North Korean regime.”

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