Free the Slaves

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PurposeCombat human trafficking and slavery
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
  • United States
Main organ
Board of Directors[1]
WebsiteOfficial website

Free the Slaves is an international non-governmental organization and lobby group, established to campaign against the modern practice of slavery around the world.[2] It was formed as the sister-organization of Anti-Slavery International (the world's oldest international human rights organization)[3] 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.[4] 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.[4] It gives Freedom Awards to honour people and organisations fighting to end slavery. Winners have included Veeru Kohli (2009) and Timea Nagy, 2012.[5]


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.[6] Spalding also raised money for the organization during her summer tour.[7]

Other supporters over the years have included Carla Gugino, Vincent Kartheiser, Camilla Belle, Forest Whitaker, Demi Moore, and Ashton Kutcher.[8][9]


In response to Kevin Bales's interview with Democracy Now! about Free The Slaves,[10] 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.[11]


  1. ^ "Free the Slaves". About Us. Archived from the original on 2013-01-21.
  2. ^ "CSR Directory for Free the Slaves". Retrieved 2014-03-18.
  3. ^ Human Rights Organizations Archived 2012-02-20 at the Wayback Machine,
  4. ^ a b "Free the Slaves - Frontlines". Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  5. ^ FTS Freedom Awards
  6. ^ "Esperanza Spalding, Paul Simon, Bobby McFerrin, Gretchen Parlato – and Prince's Sock – Make FTS Benefit Concert a Phenomenal Success". Archived from the original on 21 December 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  7. ^ "Catch Esperanza on Tour and Help Free the Slaves". Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  8. ^ "2009 Freedom Awards on Access Hollywood". Archived from the original on 2014-03-18.
  9. ^ "Watch the 2010 Freedom Awards". Archived from the original on 2014-03-18.
  10. ^ "The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today", Democracy Now!
  11. ^ Christian Parenti.Free The Truth Christian Parenti responds to Kevin Bales, Democracy Now!, September 14, 2009

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