Free the Slaves
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|Purpose||Combat human trafficking and slavery|
|Board of Directors|
Free the Slaves is an international non-governmental organization and lobby group, established to campaign against the modern practice of slavery around the world. It was formed as the sister-organization of Anti-Slavery International (the world's oldest international human rights organization) but has subsequently broken links with Anti-Slavery International and has no relationship with it. The organization was created as a result of research done by Dr. Kevin Bales in his book, Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy. Free the Slaves' approach is a focused strategy in the context of efforts around the world to enable people to meet their basic needs. Access to economic opportunities, health services, universal education, and strong rule of law would reduce the vulnerability of poor people to enslavement. Free the Slaves supports these efforts while recognizing that the existence of slavery calls for a specific and direct approach to its eradication.
Free the Slaves currently operates in India, Nepal, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, and Senegal. The countries are targeted based on the prevalence of slavery, though the modes of trafficking vary from country to country. India is the organization's "flagship" program, both the oldest and largest in terms of resources. It gives Freedom Awards to honour people and organisations fighting to end slavery. Winners have included Veeru Kohli (2009) and Timea Nagy, 2012.
Free the Slaves has worked with musicians such as Jason Mraz and Grammy Award winner Esperanza Spalding. Spalding performed a benefit concert for FTS in December 2012, featuring Bobby McFerrin, Gretchen Parlato, and a special guest appearance by Paul Simon. Spalding also raised money for the organization during her summer tour.
In response to Kevin Bales's interview with Democracy Now! about Free The Slaves, investigative journalist Christian Parenti wrote a criticism of Bales claiming he had made false claims about the chocolate industry. Specifically, Parenti argues that
Bales goes around fund raising, flogging his book and promoting himself on the basis that he has successfully reformed the chocolate industry and largely halted its use of child labor in West Africa. But no such thing has happened ... Bales' organization FTS defended the chocolate industry when the Department of Labor sought to list cocoa as a product tainted by slave and child labor.
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- FTS Freedom Awards
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- Christian Parenti.Free The Truth Christian Parenti responds to Kevin Bales, Democracy Now!, September 14, 2009