Anti-Slavery Group Calls for Immediate Liberation of Children on "Slave" Ship off Coast of Benin

Says West African case illustrates a global phenomenon of child slave

trafficking, need for action on behalf of "prisoners of commerce"



Apr 16, 2001, 01:00 ET from American Anti-Slavery Group

    BOSTON, April 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG)
 today called on the Benin government and the international community to ensure
 the immediate liberation of all 250 children reportedly trapped on a
 "slave" ship off Equatorial Guinea.
     Jesse Sage, an AASG spokesman, explained that the incident in West
 Africa was part of larger pattern.  "The traffic in children as forced
 laborers is a global phenomenon," Sage noted.  "Whether it is Bangladeshi
 toddlers trafficked into the United Arab Emirates as camel jockey slaves
 or Chinese children smuggled into Los Angeles by snakehead criminal
 gangs, there is a lucrative trade in human beings."
     Estimated are that 200,000 children are trafficked into bondage in West
 Africa, with millions more -- perhaps as many as 10 million -- trafficked
 worldwide.
     Sage cited several factors.  "Our global economy's creates demand for
 cheap goods -- and therefore cheap labor," Sage observed.  "There is no
 cheaper labor than slave labor.  Second, a massive population boom in
 regions of staggering poverty means that for some desperately poor
 parents, they and their families are their only valuable asset."
     Reports indicate that children aboard the "slave" ship may have been
 sold by their own parents.  "This may be the case for many," Sage said.  "But
 parents may also been led to believe that their children would be given good-
 paying jobs, and would be able to send funds home to their families.  Other
 children may have simply been abducted off the streets.  All three scenarios
 are common worldwide."
     Sage called on the international community to take stronger action.  "We
 have stood up for the rights of 'prisoners of conscience.'  Now we must
 champion the rights of 'prisoners of commerce.'
     "The American public has a key role to play here, because sunshine is
 the best disinfectant. Benin has been, belatedly, embarrassed into
 taking action. We need to maintain this level of pressure on all
 governments to ensure enforcement of anti-slavery and anti-trafficking
 laws.  If there is one redeeming aspect to the suffering of children
 aboard this 'slave' ship, it is that we now know of their plight and can
 mobilize on behalf of all those silenced in slavery."
 
 

SOURCE American Anti-Slavery Group
    BOSTON, April 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG)
 today called on the Benin government and the international community to ensure
 the immediate liberation of all 250 children reportedly trapped on a
 "slave" ship off Equatorial Guinea.
     Jesse Sage, an AASG spokesman, explained that the incident in West
 Africa was part of larger pattern.  "The traffic in children as forced
 laborers is a global phenomenon," Sage noted.  "Whether it is Bangladeshi
 toddlers trafficked into the United Arab Emirates as camel jockey slaves
 or Chinese children smuggled into Los Angeles by snakehead criminal
 gangs, there is a lucrative trade in human beings."
     Estimated are that 200,000 children are trafficked into bondage in West
 Africa, with millions more -- perhaps as many as 10 million -- trafficked
 worldwide.
     Sage cited several factors.  "Our global economy's creates demand for
 cheap goods -- and therefore cheap labor," Sage observed.  "There is no
 cheaper labor than slave labor.  Second, a massive population boom in
 regions of staggering poverty means that for some desperately poor
 parents, they and their families are their only valuable asset."
     Reports indicate that children aboard the "slave" ship may have been
 sold by their own parents.  "This may be the case for many," Sage said.  "But
 parents may also been led to believe that their children would be given good-
 paying jobs, and would be able to send funds home to their families.  Other
 children may have simply been abducted off the streets.  All three scenarios
 are common worldwide."
     Sage called on the international community to take stronger action.  "We
 have stood up for the rights of 'prisoners of conscience.'  Now we must
 champion the rights of 'prisoners of commerce.'
     "The American public has a key role to play here, because sunshine is
 the best disinfectant. Benin has been, belatedly, embarrassed into
 taking action. We need to maintain this level of pressure on all
 governments to ensure enforcement of anti-slavery and anti-trafficking
 laws.  If there is one redeeming aspect to the suffering of children
 aboard this 'slave' ship, it is that we now know of their plight and can
 mobilize on behalf of all those silenced in slavery."
 
 SOURCE  American Anti-Slavery Group