- Created on 17 October 2013
Hong Kong (CNN) -- A new report claiming to be the most comprehensive look at global slavery says 30 million people are living as slaves around the world.
The Global Slavery Index, published by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation, lists India as the country with by far the most slaves, with an estimated nearly 14 million, followed by China (2.9 million) and Pakistan (2.1 million).
The top 10 countries on its list of shame accounted for more than three quarters of the 29.8 million people living in slavery, with Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh completing the list.
In terms of countries with the highest of proportion of slaves, Mauritania in West Africa topped the table, with about 4% of its 3.4 million people enslaved, followed by Haiti, Pakistan, India and Nepal.
The index, whose authors claim it contains the most authoritative data on slavery conditions worldwide, is the product of Australian mining magnate and philanthropist Andrew Forrest's commitment to stamp out global slavery.
Forrest, ranked by Forbes as Australia's fifth richest man, with an estimated net worth of $5.7 billion, adopted the cause after his daughter volunteered in an orphanage in Nepal in 2008, coming into contact with child sex trafficking victims. Forrest is a signatory to the Giving Pledge started by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, whose members commit to donating at least half their wealth to philanthropic causes.
The index, which draws on 10 years of research into slavery conditions around the world and was produced by a team of 4 authors supported by 22 other experts and advisers, is the inaugural edition of what will be an annual report into slavery. It ranks 162 countries according to the number of people living in slavery, the risk of enslavement and the robustness of government responses to the problem.
Walk Free policy and research manager Gina Dafalia told CNN the report was intended to shine a spotlight on the issue, and quantify the extent of the problem in different countries before programs were put in place to tackle the problem. So far, she said, Walk Free -- and its partners Humanity United and the Legatum Foundation -- had pledged a total of $100 million to stamp out the practice.
"When we started working in this area we realized that we didn't have a good understanding of what exactly the situation of slavery is in the world," she said. "We needed that information before we started doing any interventions."
The index gives a higher estimate of the global number of slaves than other reports -- a report by the International Labor Organization last year pegged the number at 20.9 million.
Dafalia said this was a result of the Global Slavery Index using a broader definition of slavery, which included human trafficking, forced labor, as well as practices such as forced marriage, debt bondage and the exploitation of children.
"Our definition of modern slavery includes, for example, forced and servile marriage, a concept not included in the ILO estimate, given the focus on 'forced labor,'" she said.
The explicit definition used in the report was "the possession and control of a person in such a way as to significantly deprive that person of his or her individual liberty, with the intent of exploiting that person through their use, management, profit, transfer or disposal. Usually this exercise will be achieved through means such as violence or threats of violence, deception and/or coercion."
Asked why 30 million continued to live in conditions of slavery in 2013, Dafalia said the reasons varied from country to country, but one constant was that it remained a "hidden problem."
In some of the worst-hit countries, the report said, the affected parties were citizens ensnared in endemic, culturally-sanctioned forms of slavery -- "the chattel slavery of the Haratins in Mauritania, the exploitation of children through the restavek practice in Haiti, the cultural and economic practices of both caste and debt bondage in India and Pakistan, and the exploitation of children through vidomegon in Benin."
In other examples, including Nepal, Gabon and Moldova, it was migrants who were most vulnerable to exploitation. In many examples, noted the report, child and forced marriage was prevalent and child protection practices weak.
It noted that in India, the country with the most slaves, the risk of enslavement varies markedly from state to state.
The Middle East and North Africa, it said, showed the highest measured level of discrimination against women, with one result being a high level of forced and child marriages within the region, and widespread exploitation of trafficked women as domestic workers and prostitutes. Vulnerable male migrants also frequently found themselves in exploitative working conditions.
- Created on 17 October 2013
In this file photo taken Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2006 gangs of illegal miners dig for diamonds in Marange, eastern Zimbabwe. The wealth enjoyed by just a few comes, at least in part, from the vast Marange diamond field that was exposed by an earth tremor in 2006. The Marange deposit is the biggest diamond field found in Africa for a century, estimated to be worth some billions of dollars, but as most Zimbabweans remain mired in poverty, questions are being asked about where all the money went and who benefited. (AP Photo / Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, FILE)
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Despite living in an impoverished country under sanctions, some in Zimbabwe seem awash in money, judging by the Mercedes-Benzes parked at a country club and the private woodland estate with artificial lake and mansion built by the nation's police chief.
The wealth enjoyed by just a few comes, at least in part, from the vast Marange diamond field that was exposed by an earth tremor in 2006. The deposit in eastern Zimbabwe is the biggest diamond field found in Africa for a century, worth billions of dollars.
Now, as most Zimbabweans remain mired in poverty, with government coffers short on funds to build and maintain the nation's roads, clinics, utility services and schools, questions are being asked as to where all the money went and who benefited.
A recent bipartisan parliamentary investigation concluded that tens of millions of dollars in diamond earnings are missing from 2012 alone. The lawmakers who wrote the unprecedented and unusually candid report said their "worst fears were confirmed" by evidence of "underhand dealings" and diamond smuggling since 2009.
In a speech opening parliament on Sept. 17, President Robert Mugabe took the rare step of accusing one top mining official and ruling party loyalist of accepting a $6 million bribe from Ghanaian investors to obtain diamond mining rights in Marange. Mugabe said Godwills Masimirembwa took the bribe when he was head of the state Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation which is in charge of mining concessions.
Masimirembwa quit that post to contest the July 31 national election as a candidate for Mugabe's ZANU-PF party but failed to win a parliament seat. Masimirembwa denies any wrongdoing.
The parliamentary report and a human rights group say diamond mining has led to serious human rights abuses and that diamond concessions were awarded by government officials to enrich top members of the ZANU-PF party, of the security forces and Chinese allies.
In declaring his innocence, Masimirembwa said the purported deal with the Ghanaian investors was discussed with national Police Chief Augustine Chihuri and then Mines Minister Obert Mpofu, a longtime business associate of Masimirembwa who is also one of the nation's wealthiest businessmen.
Chihuri and Mpofu have frequently insisted in the state media that their wealth comes from legitimate business empires to make up for poor salaries paid for full-time government duties.
Expected revenues from the Marange diamond fields have scarcely materialized.
Former Zimbabwe Finance Minister Tendai Biti says he was promised $600 million for economic and development projects from diamond revenues last year but only received $41 million. Nothing was paid into the national treasury up to the disputed July elections that the ZANU-PF won, a vote result that caused the end of a coalition government with the MDC party that Biti belonged to, and the loss of his Cabinet seat.
Some $2 billion in Zimbabwe's diamond revenues have been unaccounted for since 2008, according to Global Witness, which campaigns against natural resource-related conflict and corruption and associated environmental and human rights abuses. Zimbabwe is the world's fourth-largest diamond miner, producing an estimated 17 million carats this year, according to the Kimberley Process which is charged with ensuring that gems reaching world markets don't bear the taint of being "blood diamonds." Marange diamonds have been declared conflict free.
But controversy and secrecy have swirled around Marange since the earth opened up and exposed its riches.
The discovery lured thousands of impoverished Zimbabweans to dig in the alluvial deposit. In 2008, the Zimbabwean army sealed off the 60,000 hectare (130,000 acre) area to take control of the mining. At least 200 people died in a mass expulsion of people living in the closed area, Global Witness and other rights groups have alleged.
Chinese construction contractors built an airfield at the Marange diamond fields. Executive planes arrive there and at a bonded warehouse alongside the runway at Harare's main airport, without traceable flight plans or having to go through customs and immigration formalities, say commercial pilots who say they have complained of the irregularities to aviation authorities. They insisted on anonymity because of fears for their safety.
Some are living high from diamond deals.
As children begged in the street a block away, Zimbabwean diamond company executives accompanied by elegant young women arrived at a popular Harare nightclub last year, ordered drinks for about 120 patrons and picked up the $ 4,000 tab, said a person who witnessed the scene and who demanded anonymity to prevent reprisals.
The identities of owners, directors and shareholders in diamond enterprises have never been officially disclosed, though the Zimbabwe Republic Police Trust, a business enterprise of the police force, is publicly listed as holding a 20 percent stake in the Ghanaian diamond investment project.
The parliamentary panel's report said powerful officials, politicians and police and army commanders repeatedly tried to thwart the probe into diamond dealings. The chairman of the 22-member panel, Edward Chindori-Chininga, a former Mugabe mines minister, died in a car crash just days after he signed the report in June.
Police said Chindori-Chininga's death was accidental and that his car had veered off the highway and slammed into trees.
Car wrecks or mysterious accidents have taken the lives of 12 senior politicians, all of whom were believed to have bucked official policy, in the past two decades, according to local press reports.
The parliamentary committee's report said several officials lied while giving evidence under subpoena and that diamond earnings are not only shielded from scrutiny but are not channeled into the state coffers. It said the Marange fields in particular are a no-go area, shrouded in secrecy and deception. The mining companies don't even buy food or services from surrounding communities, the report said.
Mugabe's government and ZANU-PF have repeatedly denied diamond revenues have been siphoned off.
But Global Witness says otherwise.
"Our research has exposed links between Zimbabwe's two largest diamond mining companies and the Zimbabwean military and other ZANU-PF insiders," said Emily Armistead, senior campaigner for Global Witness.
"It is not clear where the money is going," she added. "It appears there is a mixture of corruption enriching specific individuals and some funds going to security operations. Our concern is that it could be used to fund repression and human rights abuses."
The difficulty with monitoring diamond earnings lies in the "opaque" way the mining enterprises were formed and financed, said Zimbabwean economist John Robertson. Information on their expenditure, profits and staff levels have not been divulged, he said.
"You are not allowed to know what is going on and if you need to know that amounts to attempted espionage," Robertson said.
So far, no legal action has been taken against Masimirembwa, the man accused by Mugabe.
And despite widespread reports since September in the Zimbabwean press that other top political and military figures would likely be exposed, so far none has.
- Created on 16 October 2013
In this Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013 file photo, Nigerian soldiers ride on an armored personnel carrier during Eid al-Fitr celebrations in Maiduguri, Nigeria. Hundreds of people are dying in military detention as Nigeria's security forces crack down on an Islamic uprising in the northeast, Amnesty International said Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013. (AP Photo / Sunday Alamba file)
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Hundreds of people are dying in military detention from shootings, suffocation or starvation as Nigeria's security forces crack down on an Islamic uprising in the northeast, Amnesty International said Tuesday.
More than 950 people died in military custody in the first six months of this year, according to "credible information" from a senior Nigerian army officer, the rights group said.
The Associated Press reported in August that hundreds of people detained by security forces in northern Nigeria have disappeared. The new Amnesty International report may help explain what happened to all those people — a horrifying result for their loved ones who are still searching for the missing.
Military and government officials did not immediately respond to phone calls and emails requesting their comments.
If the number of deaths in military custody cited by the Amnesty International is accurate, that means Nigeria's military has killed more civilians than the extremists did during the first half of 2013.
Amnesty International called for an urgent investigation.
Detainees "were reportedly shot in the leg during interrogations, provided no medical care and left to bleed to death," the London-based human rights group said in the report, which includes testimony from freed detainees.
The AP reported three months after President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe on May 14 that hundreds of people were being rounded up in night raids. The state of emergency gives a Joint Task Force of soldiers, police, intelligence and customs and immigration officials the right to detain people and move them from place to place, as well as the right to search without warrants.
Distraught relatives, human rights organizations and journalists have asked the army, the police, intelligence services and government officials where the arrested people are, but have received no answers, the AP reported.
Amnesty International says dozens of bodies are being delivered by soldiers to the mortuaries of the main hospitals in Maiduguri and Damaturu, capitals of Borno and Yobe states.
Human rights activist Shehu Sani of the northern-based Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria told AP in August that he believes thousands had been detained.
Amnesty International said those killed were detained as suspected members or associates of Boko Haram, an armed Islamic extremist group that has claimed responsibility for attacks that have killed hundreds of Muslim and Christian civilians this year in their mission to overturn democracy and force Nigeria — Africa's most populous nation which is almost equally divided between the predominantly Muslim north and mainly Christian south — to become an Islamic state.
Boko Haram itself routinely commits human rights abuses, gunning down schoolchildren, health workers, government officials, Christian pastors and moderate Muslim clerics. In 2009, security forces bombed and destroyed the Boko Haram headquarters in Maiduguri. The sect's leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed in police custody.
Amnesty International said most of the deaths it documented at the hands of security forces took place at the Presidential Lodge guardroom and a detention center in Damaturu, and at Giwa Military Barracks in Maiduguri.
"The details of what happens behind locked doors in these shadowy detention facilities must be exposed, and those responsible for any human rights violations brought to book," said Amnesty International's deputy Africa director, Lucy Freeman.
Amnesty International quoted a second senior army officer as saying: "Hundreds have been killed in detention either by shooting them or by suffocation. People are crammed into one cell. There are times when people are brought out on a daily basis and killed."
Local and international human rights activists warned when thousands of troops were deployed in May that abuses by the military could help fuel the insurgency.
Civilians in northeast Nigeria as well as refugees among more than 30,000 who have fled to Cameroon, Chad and Niger have told AP reporters that they fear Nigeria's military as much as they do Boko Haram.
In April, security forces attacked by Boko Haram at the fishing village of Baga turned their guns on civilians after the militants fled. Witnesses told the AP that 187 civilians were killed by security forces who razed the village.
The military said 37 civilians were killed. There has been no investigation and no repercussions for the perpetrators.
- Created on 14 October 2013
In this photo released by Kenya's Presidency, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, left, shares a light moment with Deputy President William Ruto, right, shortly before departing to attend the African Union (AU) Heads of State special summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the airport in Nairobi, Kenya Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013. (AP Photo / Kenya Presidency)
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Accountability on the African continent did not have a good 48 hours.
On Sunday, the continental body, the African Union, said an international court should delay its trial of Kenya's president. And on Monday, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation declined to give its annual good governance award - and $5 million prize - to any former African leader, saying none had earned it.
A new measurement released by the foundation on Monday found that 32 countries on the continent have seen a decline in the categories of safety and the rule of law since the year 2000, as violence inside borders rises.
Mo Ibrahim, a British mobile phone magnate who was born in Sudan, said his foundation should not lower its standards in order to present the award every year and that young Africans are taking leadership more seriously now.
"Africa is changing, and the young African generation is different," he said. "It is a better educated people, better informed people. ... The sense of duty, the whole political atmosphere around the issue of leadership is changing."
Still, some of the more than 50 countries in Africa are still ruled by men who stay in office for decades. Others are accused of backing deadly wars or committing war crimes.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto both face International Criminal Court charges for allegedly helping to orchestrate 2007-08 post-election violence. Kenyatta is due in The Hague, Netherlands-based ICC next month, but there are growing indications that he will not go.
In a summit of African leaders on Sunday, the African Union said it would petition the U.N. Security Council to have Kenyatta's case be deferred.
"Unanimously, the council and summit recognized that a sitting head of state - democratically elected and with a clear mandate from the Kenyan people - must govern. That is what Kenyans expect. That is what Africa expects," Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohammed told a news conference Monday.
Asked by reporters if Kenyatta will travel to The Hague next month if the Security Council does not rule in Kenya's favor, Mohammed said she could not predict the future.
The Mo Ibrahim prize has been awarded three times in its seven year history - to Cape Verde President Pedro Verona Pires in 2011, Festus Mogae of Botswana in 2008, and Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique in 2007.
John Githongo - a former Kenyan government adviser who exposed hundreds of millions of dollars in government corruption - said he is not surprised that this is the second straight year no winner was named. Githongo said some in Kenya's leadership hoped the African Union meeting would result in a mass pull-out from the ICC treaty, but that did not happen.
"But it does show how shy the leadership is on the continent when it comes to accountability. At the same time it shows Kenya's political muscle," Githongo said.
The ICC has only prosecuted Africans, something that leaders in Africa are becoming more critical of. Ibrahim said while the ICC must rectify that problem, the continent still needs accountability mechanisms to prosecute mass rapes and genocide.
"There have been some horrible crimes committed in Africa and those victims need justice, said Ibrahim, who advocates a "serious dialogue" between the ICC and the African Union.
His foundation's award is meant to go to an African leader who excels in office and steps down on schedule.