Thursday, December 20, 2018

Trafficking in Persons

The degrading institution of slavery continues through the world. Trafficking in persons is a modern form of slavery, and it is the largest manifestation of slavery today. At least 700 thousand people annually, primarily women and children, are trafficked within or across international borders. Approximately 50 thousand women and children are trafficked into the United States each year. Many of these people are trafficked into the international sex trade, often by force, fraud, or coercion. But trafficking in persons is not limited to the sex industry. This growing transnational crime also includes force labor and involves significant violations of labor, public health, and human rights standards worldwide. (22 CFR 78).

This "trafficking" statute also applies to Government contractors and is implemented by FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations) 22.17.  Now one would not think that trafficking would be an issue with Government contractors but there have been documented cases where contractors over in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan who provide various services to military, have used subcontractors to fill their staffing needs. These subcontractors have induced workers from different (often impoverished) countries to work for them in sometimes inhuman conditions. In one recently settled case, the subcontractor even took their passports away so they couldn't leave.

The FAR coverage prohibits contractors, contractor employees, subcontractors, subcontractor employees, and their agents from:

  1. Engaging in severe forms of trafficking in persons during the period of contract performance
  2. Procuring commercial sex acts during the period of performance
  3. Using forced labor in the performance of the contract
  4. Destroying, concealing, confiscating, or otherwise denying access by an employee to the employee's identity or immigration documents, such as passports or drivers' licenses, regardless of issuing authority
  5. Using misleading or fraudulent practices during the recruitment of employees or offering of employments, such as failing to disclose, in a format and language accessible to the worker, basic information or making material misrepresentations during the recruitment of employees regarding the key terms and conditions of employment, including wages and fringe benefits, the location of work the living conditions, housing and associated costs, any significant costs to be charged to the employee, and if applicable, the hazardous nature of the work.requires certification and compliance plans
  6. Using recruiters that do not comply with local labor laws of the country in which the recruiting takes place
  7. Charging employees recruitment fees                     
  8. Failing to properly return workers to their countries after the end of employment.
  9. Providing or arranging housing that fails to meet the host country housing and safety standards
Contractors are required to periodically certify compliance and ensure that their subcontractors do the same. Enforcement of this is handled by the Labor Department.

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