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Les Machines de l’île
Château des ducs de Bretagne
Mémorial de l’abolition de l’esclavage
Logotype du mémorial

and today

Slavery and the slave trade: definitions


Slavery is a socio-economic system based on the exploitation of human beings that can only work through coercion and violence.
Slaves are people whose condition is not free: They belong to a master who has absolute power over them. Slaves, considered as moveable goods or merchandise, can be sold, separated from their families and forced to carry out any tasks required by their masters.
According to the first article of the Geneva Convention of September 25, 1926 :
« Slavery is defined as the status of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised. »

The Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery

The Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery was adopted in Geneva on September 7, 1956, to complete this text. It defines the following as situations of slavery :
« a) Debt bondage, that is to say, the status or condition arising from a pledge by a debtor of his personal services or of those of a person under his control as security for a debt, if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not applied towards the liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of those services are not respectively limited and defined;
b) L) Serfdom, that is to say, the condition or status of a tenant who is by law, custom or agreement bound to live and labor on land belonging to another person and to render some determinate service to such other person, whether for reward or not, and is not free to change his status ;
c) Any institution or practice whereby :
I) A woman, without the right to refuse, is promised or given in marriage on payment of a consideration in money or in kind to her parents, guardian, family or any other person or group; or
II) LThe husband of a woman, his family, or his clan, has the right to transfer her to another person for value received or otherwise; or
III) A woman on the death of her husband is liable to be inherited by another person ;
d) Any institution or practice whereby a child or young person under the age of 18 years, is delivered by either or both of his natural parents or by his guardian to another person, whether for reward or not, with a view to the exploitation of the child or young person or of his labor. »

The Slave Trade

The slave trade is the act which consists of reducing human beings into slavery or treating them like a slave, with a view selling them and transporting them against their will.
According to the first article of the Geneva Convention of September 25, 1926 :
« The slave trade includes all acts involved in the capture, acquisition or disposal of a person with intent to reduce him to slavery; all acts involved in the acquisition of a slave with a view to selling or exchanging him; all acts of disposal by sale or exchange of a person acquired with a view to being sold or exchanged; and, in general, every act of trade or transport in slaves by whatever means of conveyance. »

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Slavery and the slave trade