China jails dozens in slave scandal

Sentences range from between 18 months and five years in prison.

    Officials say nearly 600 enslaved brick workers have been rescued [EPA]
    The Xinhua news agency reported that 27 others, including managers and foremen of the brickyards, were jailed for up to five years for beating workers and using child labour.
    The scandal erupted in June after 400 parents posted a plea on the Internet claiming their children had been sold into slavery in Shanxi and neighbouring Henan province.
    The authorities acted after the Internet postings caused widespread anger among ordinary citizens.
    Children abducted
    Children as young as eight were lured from bus and train stations by people with false promises or abducted off the street before being sold to work at brick kilns under appalling conditions, according to media reports.
    Chinese officials said about 570 enslaved workers had been rescued – 41 of them children – but the actual number of victims is believed to be much higher.
    Last month 29 people were convicted for similar offences including a man who was sentenced to death.
    A brick kiln foreman where workers were beaten and forced to work 18-hour days was sentenced to life in jail.
    China also announced last month that 95 members of the ruling Communist Party had been punished, but most escaped with warnings.
    Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, had ordered an investigation and the punishment of kiln owners and officials who assisted in the crimes.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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