“Slavery is a Crime Against Humanity”: WYA attends event on Fighting Slavery

Friday, June 10, 2016—The conference on “Fighting Slavery: Is there a role for international criminal justice?” hosted and organized by the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein and the Universal Peace Federation in collaboration with the United Nations University (UNU), exposed the need for International intervention in the investigation and prosecution of slave traders. The event focused on the roles of international policies and governing bodies in the eradication and abolishment of modern slavery in all its forms and manifestations.

One of the key speakers at the conference, Fatou Bensouda, an international criminal law prosecutor and legal adviser, described the modern slavery as a brutal crime which involves the exploitation of human beings for personal gain and that it subjects the human person to a “life of inhumane treatment.” Modern slavery takes various forms and some of which are sexual slavery, forced labor, trafficking and forced marriages. This kind of atrocity is evident in all parts of the world and some estimates conclude that 35 million people experience some form of slavery.

The conference also served as a medium to present the Journal of International Criminal Justice. Prof. Zappalà, the editor in chief of the journal, highlighted the importance of communication between humanists, human law lawyers, penal lawyers, international lawyers and experts in the matter in order to understand the true dimensions of the problem that International Law is facing. Having a meeting point where subjects as slavery and the Limits of International Justice can be defined from different perspectives is crucial for understanding the matter.

Dr James Cockayne, one of the journal editors, defined slavery as “exploiting a person for personal gain.” He pointed out that the victims generally come from vulnerable sectors of society. Dr. Cockayne exposed the contradiction that modern slavery presents: that in our modern society, “where slavery is forbidden everywhere and every time,” the practice often goes unpunished. He believes that the International Criminal Court (ICC) should prosecute these crimes because there are countries that have no rule of law, and in those cases justice must come from somewhere else.

Panelist Kate Kennedy of the Freedom Fund reflected on the fact that “behind the statistics, these people are individuals with real stories and real feelings, too.” She emphasized that solutions towards the eradication of modern slavery must be geared toward strengthening legal norms, supporting human rights, access to education and healthcare, and support for workers, as well as the importance of having non-governmental organizations that advocate on these issues.

WYA condemns human trafficking, which violates human dignity by treating human beings like commodities to be owned, used and discarded at will. Only by recognizing the intrinsic dignity of every single human person can we achieve a peaceful and just society.

Written by Ana Sylvia Espinosa de los Monteros and Ana Mariela Gonzales, Batch 2 2016 Interns for World Youth Alliance Headquarters.