Updated at 15:24,15-04-2021

‘Where are these modern slaves?’ Belarus MFA calls Global Slavery Index ‘ridiculous’


In late May, Australia’s human rights watchdog Walk Free Foundation published a Global Index Slavery report claiming that 44,600 persons in Belarus are living in modern slavery.

The report also says that the Belarusian government continues the practice of Subbotniks, which requires government employees to work weekends and donate their earnings to finance government projects, and state employers and authorities have intimidated and fined those who refuse to participate.

According to Dzmitry Mironchyk, the spokesman for the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, the document is ‘ridiculous’.

“The first question that has popped up is: Have these people [the authors of the report] ever been to Belarus? An if they really visited our country, at what marketplace did they count heads [of slaves]?” Mironchyk wonders.

The document states that only a few countries have fewer slaves than Australia, for example, 900 slaves in Norway and 400 in Iceland, the representative of the Foreign Ministry stressed. In his opinion, such precision implies that the authors might have lists of names of slaves.

Belarus strictly honors its commitments under the conventions against slavery, Dzmitry Mironchyk said.

Meanwhile, state-sanctioned forced labour continued to exist in Belarus, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, the Australian human rights defenders warn.