Free the Slaves partner in the U.K., Anti-Slavery International (ASI)—the oldest human rights organizations in the world—was featured on the BBC yesterday in a segment on slave labor in Dubai. The piece was produced by veteran foreign correspondent John Simpson, noted for his war coverage, and reports on international human rights issues.
Thousands of forced laborers, mainly from South Asia built Dubai’s skyscraper boom. These victims of modern-day slavery often have their passports taken away from them by their “employers,” are unpaid—or paid very little—and, due to complicated migration laws, live in a legal twilight zone.
ASI Director Aidan McQuade explains how the laws make this population vulnerable to exploitation: “200 years ago people who controlled workers used whips to enslave them. Today they use immigration law,” he said. “What we see in a lot of cases particularly the Gulf states is the rules of safe migration [governing the] entering and exiting [of] countries are so complex, so byzantine that it’s very very difficult for people to leave.”