On 28th July 2021, Antigua and Barbuda ratified the ILO 2014 Protocol on Forced Labour, becoming the 55th ILO member States and the 2nd country in the Caribbean to do so. By ratifying the Protocol, Antigua and Barbuda have demonstrate their commitment to fight forced labour in all its forms.
The Covid-19 pandemic has severely affected the world of work. In addition to the public health dangers, the livelihoods of millions of vulnerable workers is threatened and the risk that they fall into forced labour situation has increased. This is why it is of utmost importance that fundamentals principals and rights at work, including the elimination of forced labour in all its forms are placed at the centre of recovery efforts.
The Protocol requires member States to take effective action to prevent forced labour, to protect victims and to give them access to justice and remedies, including compensation. The ILO estimates that globally there are still 25 million men, women and children still trapped in forced labour situations today. Victims are subjected to violence, threats and coercion in different sectors of the economy, such as domestic work, construction, manufacturing, agriculture and fishing.
This ratification is the most recent step in the country’s fight against forced labour and human trafficking. It follows the 2010 adoption by Antigua and Barbuda of the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention) Act that criminalized trafficking in persons for the purpose of labour exploitation or sexual exploitation with severe penalties. By ratifying the ILO Protocol, the country will further strengthen its efforts in achieving target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals to eradicate forced labour, modern slavery, and human trafficking.