Modern slavery is prevalent in North Korea, among other repressive regimes.
The Global Slavery Index estimates that 40.3 million people worldwide were subjected to modern slavery in 2016, with the highest concentration in North Korea where one in 10 people lived under such conditions. The report was compiled by the Walk Free Foundation, an anti-slavery campaign founded by Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest.
The goal of the index is to pressure governments and companies to do more to end modern slavery by providing hard data on the numbers of people involved and the impact it has around the world.
“By unraveling the trade flows and focusing on products at risk of modern slavery that are imported by the top economies, it becomes clear that even the wealthiest countries have a clear and immediate responsibility for responding to modern slavery both domestically and beyond their borders,” the report said. “Developed economies are exposed to the risk of modern slavery not only when this crime is perpetrated within their national borders, but also when that risk is effectively transferred to them via the products they import.”
Modern slavery involves the use of threats, violence and deception to take away people’s ability to control their own bodies, to refuse certain kinds of work or to stop working altogether. Repressive regimes are of particular concern because their “populations are put to work to prop up the government,” according to the report.
The report cites coal, cocoa, cotton, timber and fish as among the products that may be tainted by modern slavery. In North Korea, coal exports are the area of greatest concern.