Minister of State Kitt Announces Funding to Combat Forced Labour

“Forced Labour is a truly global problem and I believe that Ireland will strengthen the international and national efforts to combat it in all its manifestations” – Kitt

The Minister of State with responsibility for Development Cooperation and Human Rights, Mr Tom Kitt TD, had discussions in Geneva today with senior representatives of prominent international agencies and organisations. The Minister first met with the Director General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Mr Juan Somavia. Minister Kitt and Mr Somavia discussed the Partnership Programme run by Ireland Aid in conjunction with the ILO, which involves support valued at €3.6m. The Programme focuses on assisting disabled persons in the developing world with a particular emphasis on assisting women entrepreneurs (including those with disabilities), and with promoting disability legislation.

The Minister announced additional funding aimed at supporting the ILO in its efforts to combat forced and bonded labour.

Commenting on this initiative, the Minister said: “Forced labour is truly a global problem. Unlike the mass forced labour of the past century, most modern forced labour is exacted largely by individuals and enterprises outside national law, or by forced criminal elements, who trap persons into coercive labour conditions”.

The Minister went on to state: “There is a real need for greater awareness of the issue of forced labour on the global agenda. The International Labour Organisation is well placed to address this scourge through research, awareness raising and programmes to tackle the structural roots of the problem. We are happy to partner the ILO in this important endeavour”.

The Ireland Aid funded programme gives high priority to working against forced and bonded labour with non-governmental human rights organisations, including Trócaire and Anti-Slavery International.

In the course of his visit to Geneva, the Minister also held discussions with the Director General of the World Trade Organisation, the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, the Secretary General of the International Federation of the Red Cross, the Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and a number of key representatives of other Geneva-based organisations. Among the subjects for discussion were the humanitarian challenges currently faced in Southern Africa, the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq.


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