Slavery and Forced Labor

 

In Israel many investigations were conducted by the police on a variety of offences committed against migrants, including cases of slavery and forced labour. The police unit specializing in offences against migrants is part of the Saar department, which is part of the Lahav 433 unit. Cases of human trafficking, slavery and forced labour also fall under their jurisdiction.

 

The different central police district units also conduct investigations on cases of human trafficking, in correlation to their authority. The State Attorney's office submitted a number of indictments for slavery and forced labour offences, and appointed a team of referents, one in each district, who specialize in slavery and human trafficking offences, advise the prosecutor on the case, and formulate recommendations and guidelines on the subject.  

 
The number of indictments and convictions for slavery and forced labour is relatively low, mainly due to the fact that these offences were only recently enacted. The first conviction for the crime of slavery in Israel (State of Israel v. G., detailed summary available at the UNODC case law database) was regarding a Philippine woman who had to work for most hours of the day, was not allowed to leave the house without permission, and never went further than to the nearby store, unless accompanied by her employers. When the employers went on vacation, she was left locked in the house, and her use of a mobile phone was very limited. An appeal is currently undergoing deliberation in the Supreme Court.  
 
Another conviction of the crime of slavery concerned a family which lived as a form of a "cult"; it consisted of 6 women and 17 children. The family members lived under a terrifying rule which included vicious, cruel, sexual and degrading punishments, which were imposed by a Brezlav Hassid who was the head of the family (the state of Israel vs. D.A, at the Jerusalemdistrict court). An appeal on the conviction is currently undergoing deliberation in the Supreme Court.
 
Another indictment which included the crime of slavery was submitted in the Tel-Aviv-Jaffa district court. According to the evidence the defendant took over the lives of 21 Israeli women and their children, he formulated their way of thinking and subordinated their everyday life to his authority. The defendant was not convicted of the slavery charges, but was convicted of many sexual offences and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
 
Several charges on forced labor were also presented in Israel. For example, in 2010, an indictment for forced labor was presented against a farmer who abused 9 workers from Thailand. Said farmer was convicted through a plea bargain (read an unofficial translation of the indictment). In the past few years a number of cases were brought forward in the fields of nursing care, food services and more. 

 

Beyond enforcement efforts on crimes of slavery and forced labor, it's worth noting that in Israel many investigations were initiated on offences committed against migrants, amond them fraud, exploitation and passport confiscation. Vigilant action on these issues create an unwelcoming climate for the development of human trafficking, and contributes to the enforcement efforts in the field.