History of the Section

Section 11 is modelled on article 8 of the ICCPR Covenant. The Charter omits article 8(3)(c)(ii), which provides an exception to the right to be free from forced or compulsory labour for military service or national service that is required to be performed by conscientious objectors, as these are considered matters within the Commonwealth’s jurisdiction.

Similar rights exist in comparative law.

Comparative rights table


Section 11(1): A person must not be held in slavery or servitude.

Section 2): A person must not be made to perform forced or compulsory labour.

Section 3) In summary, this qualifies 11(2) by providing that forced or compulsory labour does not include work or service required to be performed:

  • pursuant to a court order, including work required while in lawful detention,
  • during emergency situations, or
  • as part of normal civil obligations.

Article 8:

  1. No one shall be held in slavery; slavery and the slave-trade in all their forms shall be prohibited.
  2. No one shall be held in servitude.
  3. (a) No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour;

    (b) Paragraph 3 (a) shall not be held to preclude, in countries where imprisonment with hard labour may be imposed as a punishment for a crime, the performance of hard labour in pursuance of a sentence to such punishment by a competent court;

    (c) For the purpose of this paragraph the term ‘forced or compulsory labour’ shall not include:

    (i) Any work or service, not referred to in subparagraph (b), normally required of a person who is under detention in consequence of a lawful order of a court, or of a person during conditional release from such detention;

    (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.
ACT: Human Rights Act 2004

Section 26

S Africa: Constitution of the republic of South Africa 1996 Chapter 2
Section 13
UK: Human Rights Act 1998
Schedule 1, art. 4.
Canada: Canadian Charter of Rights and freedoms

No equivalant

New Zealand: New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990

No equivalent