March 06, 2005

Slavery Today

The West African nation of Niger has cancelled at the last minute a ceremony that would have freed "at least 7,000 slaves," according to the BBC News World Edition. There are an estimated 43,000 or more slaves in Niger. A new law punishes slaveowners with up to 30 years in jail, hence the planned local ceremony in a place called In Ates near the Mail border. Slavery in Niger was offiocially banned in 2003, under international pressure.

The national government co-sponsored the ceremony. However, a spokesman for the government's human rights organization said that the ceremony was cancelled because slavery does not exist in Niger.

Slaves in Niger are subject to rape, torture, and abuse, according to the BBC. Male slaves work in the fields or tend cattle; female slaves perform domestic duties.

Via blogdex.

A search of the New York Times archive finds nothing relevant in the past eight years.