Las Malvinas fire: a case of modern-day slavery

01 July 2017

The devastating fire at Las Malvinas in Lima on 22 June showcased the terrible labour practises that led to the death of three young men who were locked in a container to work and unable to escape; they burned to death. It brought to light the general lack of attention paid to working conditions by both national and municipal authorities. Peru is thought to have among the highest rates of people working in conditions of near slavery of any Latin American country.

The young men had been working in a container under fluorescent lights removing the brand names of clothing so that new names could be attached. They had been locked in so they could not escape or steal, thus making it impossible to flee the voracious fire. It takes a disaster of this sort to reveal the absence of proper labour regulation; questions still abound on how this was possible and permissible.

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    The Peru Support Group exists to promote social inclusion, sustainable development and the observance of human rights in Peru. To that end the PSG highlights shortcomings in observance of established norms, whether international or local in nature, in its research, advocacy and publications. In so doing, it underscores the relationships that exist within the political system, how institutions work, and the effectiveness of policies that aim to reduce poverty and inequality within the context of sustainable development.

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    Over the past century Peru has suffered a series of autocratic governments and a civil war in which nearly 70,000 people died. Many of the country's ongoing political and social problems are a legacy of its somewhat turbulent past. 

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    Human rights violations were widespread during the twenty years after the initiation of armed conflict in 1980. Efforts to convict perpetrators since the war's end have made only limited progress. Today, concerns remain over the treatment of those engaged in social protest, particularly against strategically important investment projects.

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