PH top Asian country in anti-slavery report

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The Philippines emerged as the top country in Asia in terms of government response in curbing modern day slavery.

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The country topped the 2014 Global Slavery Index (GSI), an annual report released by the Walkfree Foundation, an Australian-based human rights organization dedicated to ending modern day slavery.

It has been dubbed as the most accurate and comprehensive measure of modern slavery, which includes trafficking in persons and forced labor.

Vice President Jejomar Binay thanked the international community for recognizing the efforts of the Philippine government fighting slavery.

“On behalf of the member-agencies of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) and our partner non-government organizations, I wish to thank the Walkfree Foundation for acknowledging our efforts to stamp out human trafficking and modern day slavery in the country,” he said.

Binay is the chairman emeritus of the IACAT.

“I would also like to thank all members of the IACAT without whose dedication and hard work we would have been able to achieve this milestone,” he added.
Countries are given a highest possible ranking of AAA to the lowest D.

The Philippines was given a BB rating, which means that it has “introduced a response to modern slavery, which includes short term victim support services, a criminal justice framework that criminalizes some forms of modern slavery, a body to coordinate the response, and protections for those vulnerable to modern slavery.”

The rating also means that “(t)here may be evidence that some government policies and practices may criminalize and/or cause victims to be deported, and/or facilitate slavery.”

Following reports of abuse of Filipino workers in the Gulf states, “the Philippine government introduced a raft of innovative measures to ensure domestic workers were protected,” the report said.

“This includes standardized employment contracts that require pre-deployment verification by the Philippine Labor Office and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), a minimum monthly wage of $400 and holidays among other measures,” the report continued.

“In addition to victim support and protection, the government continued its efforts to implement the 2012-2016 National Strategic Plan on Trafficking in Persons Law enforcement efforts increased from 2013 to 2014, with the Government securing 31 sex trafficking convictions, two of which are from Pampanga, a province known to be a trafficking hot-spot,” the report said.

Besides being ranked first in Asia, the Philippines also ranked third in the Asia-Pacific region, after Australia and New Zealand, and is ranked 29th globally among the 167 countries covered by the GSI.

The report noted that the government addressed some recommendations made in the 2013 GSI, and “as a result continued to be regional leader in victim support and protection, particularly for OFWs [overseas Filipino workers].”

The Vice President is the Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns.

“We have noted the recommendations made in the 2014 GSI, including the need to increase our efforts to ensure monitoring and streamlining of employment conditions of OFWs their rights are protected. We will also look into establishing a central database to track cases of OFW exploitation,” he said.

“As the report has recommended, we will also increase our efforts to effectively implement the expanded anti-trafficking law at the local level, and develop better cooperation of key government agencies to provide education, undertake awareness raising and support prosecutions,” he added.

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