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Friday, November 9, 2018 

A Dutch shipbuilder, which is not being named pending legal action, is being sued by a North Korean labourer in a test case for allegedly profiting from ‘modern slavery’.

The Reuters news agency says that the anonymous Korean who worked for Polish company Crist SA (pictured), was engaged in making components that were supplied to the Dutch shipbuilder. He is said to be one of hundreds of thousands of North Korean citizens who are sent by their government to work overseas, only to be forced to work long hours in unsafe conditions, have freedoms restricted, and to have their passports and a large proportion of wages confiscated by the North Korean regime. The practice is said to provide North Korea with valuable foreign currency that can be used to offset the effects of UN sanctions.

Because the Netherlands has a law that makes profiting from exploitation illegal, and the parts made by the North Korean worker and his compatriots were known by the Dutch company to sold at cheaper than normal market prices, human rights lawyers are suing the Dutch shipbuilder on behalf of the labourer.

According to the Global Legal Action Network, this legal action to target labour exploitation in supply chains will send a strong message to multinational corporations that profiting from forced labour entails serious legal risk.

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