Slavery criminalised in Nepal

Slavery criminalised in Nepal

Slavery criminalised in Nepal

Updated 19 December 2011, 13:12 AEDT

Nepal's Maoist-led government has abolished the slavery-like Haliya system by freeing 20,000 people from the hands of moneylenders and landlords.

Under the system, prevalent for decades in nine districts in western Nepal, moneylenders force poor villagers who borrow money to farm their land until they repay their debt.

Peace and Reconstruction Minister and former Maoist commander, Janardan Sharma, says from now on anyone who practises the system will be punished.

He says the government has set up a panel to consider rehabilitation of the former slaves and their families.

The Maoists have vowed to initiate revolutionary land reforms in a country where more than 80 per cent of its 26.4 million people eke out their living from farms.