CHENNAI, INDIA – Today, three rice mill owners who ran their businesses using slave labor were convicted of criminal charges. Each of the three perpetrators was fined and sentenced to prison, a significant ruling communicating a strong message that forced labor slavery is a crime punishable by law in India.
“These decisions are a powerful reminder that there are serious consequences to using forced labor,” said IJM Chennai’s Field Office Director Andy Griffiths.
In 2005, IJM assisted local government officials with an operation to rescue 16 forced labor slaves from a rice mill in a rural district in Andhra Pradesh. While IJM assisted the families to restart their lives in freedom, the rice mill owner filled his facility with new slaves who he controlled with physical abuse and threats of violence. In 2007, IJM once again assisted the government with a rescue operation to free 26 individuals from slavery in the same rice mill.
Today, the rice mill owner and his son were convicted, ending a generational cycle of violence and enforcing India’s Bonded Labor System (Abolition) Act, a law that criminalizes forced labor slavery.
In a third case, another owner of a rice mill was convicted under the Bonded Labor Act and ordered to pay a fine under the Indian Penal Code. IJM had assisted the government with a rescue operation in 2006 to free 17 individuals from slavery in his rice mill.
“Forced labor slavery is illegal, and it is morally wrong,” said Griffiths. “Nevertheless, some people seem to believe that they are above the law and can continue to exploit others in this way without consequence.”