The United Nations has defended its new global assessments on slavery, rejecting claims by India’s intelligence agency that the estimates in the report taint the Asian state’s “image and exports.”
The report on global slavery was prepared and released last month by UN bodies — the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – as well as the Australia-based rights group Walk Free Foundation.
It found that more than 40 million people throughout the world were victims of modern day slavery in 2016, AP reported Saturday.
According to the UN estimate, 62 percent of those in forced marriages or forced labor — such as construction or domestic work — were in the Asia-Pacific region, but it did not provide any country-specific data.
India’s Intelligence Bureau, however, challenged the report’s methodology in a memo to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, claiming the data “has enough potential to substantially harm India’s image and exports,” local media reports said this week.
According to the press reports, the bureau further cautioned that “global documentation on slavery is increasingly targeting India as home to the highest number of slaves in the world,” urging a rigorous state campaign to “discredit” the information.
However, ILO authorities denied claims that India was deliberately targeted and insisted that they had full confidence in the findings of the report.
“The memo is based on a misunderstanding. There are no national figures in the data. We don’t single out any country,” said ILO’s chief of the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, Beate Andrees.—Agencies