In the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
FTS works with:

It's the deadliest spot in the poorest continent on earth. Millions have died during the conflict between warring rebel militias and the national army. At stake: vast mineral wealth and control of slaves who are forced to work in the mines.

Slave labor fuels the fighting and prevents Congo residents from building better lives. Free the Slaves teams have been working on the ground in eastern DRC to uncover the extent of slavery, and to develop ways to end it.
Slavery in Your Pocket: The Congo Connection

Read our 2013 in-depth report on forced marriage slavery in eastern Congo. Download the full report in English or French (PDF).
Read our 2013 in-depth report on slavery at mines in South Kivu province. Download the full report in English or French (PDF).
Read our 2011 report on slavery in and around eastern Congo mines. Download it in English or French (PDF).
She is a survivor of sex slavery. Kidnapped by an armed group at the age of 13, she spent the following three years under its control. Her life depended on the will of her commander, who forced her to transport dry minerals during he day and raped her nightly as his "wife." Forced marriage and its connection to enslavement remain poorly understood.

Types of slavery in DRC mining zones

Free the Slaves investigators have discovered several forms of modern slavery in eastern DRC, including:

  • Slavery at gunpoint. Villagers are rounded up by armed groups and marched to the mines.

  • Debt bondage slavery. Money, food or tools are advanced to laborers, but bogus accounting and abusive interest rates prevent them from repaying the debt. Miners are forced to keep digging.

  • Sexual slavery. Militias and the army abduct women and girls from villages. Some are lured to mining zones by false promises of financial support.

  • Peonage. False criminal charges are made against a person, who will be sentenced in a corrupt or phony trial to toil at the mines.

  • Child soldiering. Children are forced into the ranks of armed groups that control mining zones.

Your lifestyle affects their freedom


The Congo is rich in minerals that make modern lifestyles possible-from medical devices and household goods to automobiles and high-tech electronics. They're known as the "Three Ts" (tin, tungsten, tantalum) and gold. Ore mined by slaves in the DRC is smuggled into the global trade in metals, tainting many products that we use every day.

The military conflict makes things worse, as armed groups battle for control of lucrative mining sites. But the quest for illicit profits won't end when the shooting does. Congolese communities need resources to avoid all forms of slavery and to develop alternative livelihoods that don't rely so heavily on mining.



Free the Slaves Action Plan

Efforts are underway to resolve the DRC military conflict, but slavery itself must end for lasting peace. Free the Slaves, together with Congolese human rights organizations, is continuing to investigate the extent of slavery in eastern DRC and lay groundwork for community-based action to end the exploitation.

It's vital that people in slavery are engaged in developing these solutions. Free the Slaves is working on the frontlines to ensure that their voices are heard.

Read our letters to Senator Ellen M. Corbett recognizing her support for legislation SB 861, prohibiting California State contracts with companies that fail to comply with federal reporting requirements on Congo’s conflict minerals here (PDF).

Read our letters to Secretary Clinton urging implementation of the Conflict Minerals Act, here (PDF) and here (PDF) .

Read the State Department's response, here (PDF)

Read our letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), asking them not to overlook slavery in the implementation of the Conflict Minerals Act here (PDF) and here (PDF).

Read our letter to the Members of the House Financial Services Committee’s International Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee here (PDF).

Read our letter to the U.S. Special Advisor for the Great Lakes Region and the DRC, sent in cooperation with major corporations, investors and civil society organizations, here (PDF).

Read our letter to members of the House of Representatives, encouraging bipartisan support for House Resolution 131 to enhance U.S. leadership in fostering peace in Congo, here (PDF).