EMC: The offered amendments do not provide for effective responses against the forced labor and labor exploitation

EMC_logoThe Georgian Parliament is discussing the amendments in the law on ”Combatting human trade (trafficking)”. The draft law is prepared by The Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia and discussed by the parliament in an expedited manner. As a result of such acceleration, it failed to guarantee the inclusive procedure and the involvement of all interested stakeholders in the discussions.

According to the explanatory note, the proposed amendments are aimed at identification and creation of effective response mechanisms on the labor exploitation and forced labor; if the draft law is passed, legislative amendments will become valid as of January,1, 2016.

EMC believes, that revealing of trafficking and an attempt to create additional response mechanisms must be assessed positively, however the presented draft law raises issues even about the law’s primary objective – the effectiveness of the means to combat trafficking, and additionally, it does not address the problem of forced labor and labor exploitation and leaves the issue of appropriate response to such facts beyond the regulation.

  1. According to the draft law, the functions of the competent body (the inspection department of labor condition) of The Ministry of Labor, Health, and Social Affairs of Georgia, are supplemented with the function of inspecting labor conditions for the purpose of prevention and response on the facts of forced labor and labor exploitation. However, the only form of the response defined is addressing the investigation body and only in those cases if such inspection will reveal the crime of trafficking.  In particular, the draft law does not include the relevant forms of the reaction if the forced labor and labor exploitation does not reach the trafficking offense. As a result, the draft law does not aim at prevention and elimination of forced labor and labor exploitation as independent criminal actions, but considers them only as means to reveal trafficking. However, the Third progress report on Georgia’s implementation of the action plan on visa liberalization, adopted by the European Commission on May, 8th 2015, underlines, that the state must take steps for enhancing proactive, intelligence-led investigations to all forms of exploitation.
  2. For effective combatting against forced labor, labor exploitation and trafficking, it is important for the state to create the efficient inspection body, which will be capable to proactively identify and react on such cases. The 2014, trafficking in person’s report of US State Department underlines the significance of above mentioned. To acquire such efficiency, the inspection department must be entrusted with the right to proceed with the inspection of any kinds of enterprise through the direct access in order to effectively reveal the cases of forced labor and labor exploitation. Despite its goal to effectively combat trafficking, the offered amendments does not clearly determine the right of the inspection department of labor conditions to such access , in case of which it will not be possible to effectively reveal the practice of forced labor and labor exploitation.
  3. The draft law offers the term “labor exploitation” however, it does not specify its definition, while such concept is not known by enacted legislation.  The criminal code, as well as, the law on “Combatting the human trade (trafficking)” links the concept of “exploitation” to the crime of trafficking and does not consider it as an independent composition. However, the draft law introduces the concept with an independent meaning, without specifying the relevant definition. The International Labor Organization lists following indicators to the definition of the labor exploitation: excessive working days or hours, very bad working conditions, low or no salary, no respect of labor laws or contract signed, no social protection, salary manipulation. With the ILO’s definition, these indicators give the qualification of labor exploitation, thus, it is necessary to specify the concepts of labor exploitation considering the components offered by International Labor Organization.

EMC believes that the draft law does not provide the relevant legal framework to reveal and combat the forced labor, labor exploitation and it still leaves the necessity of creating effective mechanisms of labor rights protection; The offered amendments cannot provide for identification and an effective reaction on the forced labor, labor exploitation and trafficking on the workplaces. In addition, it addresses only to separate forms of violation of labor rights, which considering the scales and the severity of labor violation on the workplaces, including threats to the lives and health of the employees, cannot be considered as a significant change.

Due to aforementioned we believe that:

  • Effective mechanisms of the response on the labor exploitation and forced labor as separate compositions, should be determined, which will also consider the obligation of the enterprises to take measures for immediate elimination of such practice and to comply labor process with the legislation;
  • It is compulsory to clearly determine the power of the relevant state authority to access any kinds of enterprise without obstacles for revealing the cases of labor exploitation and forced labor;
  • The concept of labor exploitation should be determined according to the standards of International Labor Organization.