Monday, April 24, 2006

For Freedom

"Then there is the repugnant practice of human trafficking whereby organised gangs move people from one region to another with the intention of exploiting them when they arrive.

[I]mplementing the EU action plan [involves] developing proposals to hit the people... traffickers hard, in opening up their bank accounts, harassing their activities, arresting their leading members and bring them to justice"
- Tony Blair, June 2005
Bringing them to justice seems the way to go. (Blair's attitude towards that is somewhat questionable in the real world but let's put that to one side for a moment.)

And now, a quick trip overseas (via).
The top U.S. commander in Iraq has ordered sweeping changes for privatized military support operations after confirming violations of human-trafficking laws and other abuses by contractors involving possibly thousands of foreign workers on American bases, according to records obtained by the Chicago Tribune.

Gen. George Casey ordered that contractors be required by May 1 to return passports that have been illegally confiscated from laborers on U.S. bases after determining that such practices violated U.S. laws against trafficking for forced or coerced labor. Human brokers and subcontractors from South Asia to the Middle East have worked together to import thousands of laborers into Iraq from impoverished countries.

Two memos obtained by the Tribune indicate that Casey's office concluded that the practice of confiscating passports from such workers was both widespread on American bases and in violation of the U.S. trafficking laws.

The memos, including an order dated April 4 and titled "Subject: Prevention of Trafficking in Persons in MNF-I," or Multinational Forces-Iraq, say the military also confirmed a host of other abuses during an inspection of contracting activities supporting the U.S. military in Iraq. They include deceptive hiring practices; excessive fees charged by overseas job brokers who lure workers into Iraq; substandard living conditions once laborers arrive; violations of Iraqi immigration laws; and a lack of mandatory "awareness training" on U.S. bases concerning human trafficking.
Mr Blair, as a committed promoter of the rule of law, democracy, human rights and universalism, will no doubt make a huge noise about this and demand that those guilty of human trafficking crimes and other related abuses are arrested and brought to justice.

Yeah. Right.

For those who say the difference between "us and them" is that we deal with the problem when we find out about it, I suggest reading the article to see how long it has taken before any sort of action has been taken on this. The difference between "us and them" is that we might do something about it if the media (and the State department to give them due credit) kicks up a big enough stink over a prolonged period of time.

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