COSP17 Intervention on Modern slavery

PWDA intervention on modern slavery, highlighting the importance of governments to view segregated employment and sheltered workshops as potentials sites of modern slavery.

This is a statement delivered by Lisa Ira, Senior Policy Officer at People with Disability Australia, at the Civil Society Forum for the 17th Session Of The Conference Of States Parties To The CRPD (COSP17).

Hi, my name is Lisa Ira and I am representing People with Disability Australia.

Today we have been discussing Article 27(1) of the CRPD, and asking how we can promote the right to decent work and a sustainable livelihood.

To understand what constitutes ‘decent work’, we must conversely examine what is not decent work.

I think we can all agree that any form of modern slavery is not decent work.

Article 27(2) of the CRPD addresses modern slavery, by requiring States Parties to ensure that people with disability are not held in slavery or servitude and are protected from forced labour.

So what kind of work might constitute modern slavery for people with disability?

We believe sheltered workshops pose a risk of modern slavery. People with disability may work in these settings not through their free choice, but through the choice of a guardian. Others may believe that working in a sheltered workshop is their only option. People with disability can also be prevented from leaving these settings through the use of restrictive practices.

Modern slavery can occur in other work settings. For example, a person with disability may be forced to perform cleaning duties for a relative or friend for minimal pay.

While it is widely recognised that people with disability face an increased risk of being subject to modern slavery, the intersection between disability and modern slavery is under-researched and often neglected area in law, policy and practice around the world.

I call on all of our organisations to work together to further our knowledge on the intersection between disability and modern slavery and bring it to the attention of our governments.

As the fight to eradicate modern slavery builds momentum, so too must the fight to ensure reforms are disability inclusive.

Modern slavery is a disability issue and there can be nothing about us, without us.