Exceptions To The Prohibition On Forced Labor

Generally recognized exceptions to the prohibition on forced labor may be found in Article 8 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:

(ii) Any service of a military character and, in countries where conscientious objection is recognized, any national service required by law of conscientious objectors;

(iii) Any service exacted in cases of emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community;

(iv) Any work or service which forms part of normal civil obligations.

Registration certainly is not military conscription so that exception is eliminated. Registration cannot be considered a normal civil obligation because it is not imposed on everyone. Registration is imposed regardless of whether the individual is considered a danger to the community. Registration, therefore, cannot be in response to an emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community.

Even if Registration could be twisted into one of the foregoing exceptions, government remains obliged to provide compensation for services rendered and accepted. See, e.g., United States v. Russell, 80 US 623, 630 (1871). And, Article 15 of the ILO Forced Labour Convention of 1930 requires compensation to include subsistence and maintenance of the worker and his dependents in the event of disability. Restitution for forced labor is fairly determined by “[ ] the [ ] value to the defendant of the victim's services or labor [ ].” 18 USC 1593 (3). A less favorable formula would equate to no less than exploitation.