Posted on March 15, 2005

‘Modern Slavery’ Shocks Dutch MPs

Expatica, Mar. 15

AMSTERDAM — Dutch MPs have reacted with shock to claims that a modern form of slavery exists in the Netherlands, with thousands of illegal immigrants being forced to work in extremely poor circumstances.

The Lower House of Parliament, Tweede Kamer, has demanded answers about the alleged exploitation of illegal immigrants by West African gangs. A majority of MPs believe that the criminal activities must be investigated.

The Nigerian and Ghanaian gangs allegedly claim two-thirds of an illegal immigrant’s wages and the African “slaves” often receive just EUR 2 per hour, RTL News reported. The gangs earn millions of euros via the scam.

The social intelligence and investigation service (SIOD) asserts that the victims are put to work performing uneducated jobs in the agriculture sector, abattoirs and the Dutch cleaning industry.

SIOD also said the work conditions are often extremely poor. Conveyor belts in factories are often too quick, the work sites are very hot, or noise regulations are breached. It described the situation as modern slavery.

The immigrants are usually completely dependent on the gangs for housing and while they remain in service of the criminals, they are left to live in miserable circumstances.

It is not unusual for a bed to be shared by three people, each of them for eight hours per day. Some immigrants are forced to hire a chair for EUR 150 per month. Their entire life reportedly revolves around that one chair.

The victims are also dependent on the gangs for the necessary visa and identification papers to remain in the Netherlands. They are required to pay money for the documents, meaning they cannot extricate themselves from the network.

But the African immigrants accept the circumstances; apparently because it is considered worse to be sent back home.

RTL News said the Dutch government and justice authorities are primarily focusing on combating the exploitation of women in the sex industry. Up until now, it was unknown that men were also the victims of slave labour.