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Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Violations Archive

What the U.S. Government Knew About Najlaa

Posted July 11, 2012 By Ms Sparky

David Isenberg – (Huffington Post) – July 11, 2012 – A bit over a year ago a report I co-wrote, documenting human trafficking and abuse of workers by Najlaa International Catering Services, a KBR subcontractor, was published by the Project on Government Oversight.

The internal company documents I uncovered revealed, among other things, that U.S. authorities were aware of the deplorable living conditions Najlaa workers endured back in 2008. To their credit both the U.S. government and KBR both worked to pressure Najlaa to fix things once they were alerted to the problem.

But, thanks to the American Civil Liberties Union, newly released documents reveal that the U.S. government and KBR were even more aware of the problem than previously known.

In July 2011 the ACLU filed a lawsuit demanding that the government release documents relating to the trafficking and the abusive treatment of foreign workers on U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case sought documents from the Departments of State and Defense that detail audits and complaints about military contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Joe Davidson – (Washington Post) – June 27, 2012 – A Senate committee wants to make sure Uncle Sam doesn’t act as an inadvertent enabler for international human traffickers and pimps.

With a voice vote Wednesday, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee preliminarily approved legislation designed, as its title says, to “End Trafficking in Government Contracting.”

When contractors submit proposals for government work overseas, they don’t include provisions for trading in humans or indentured servitude. But that apparently has been the case with some private firms operating on U.S. military bases in foreign countries.

“Modern-day slavery by government contractors — unknowingly funded by American taxpayers — is unconscionable and intolerable,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), prime sponsor of the bill. “Current law prohibiting human trafficking is insufficient and ineffective, failing to prevent or punish abuses.”

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Says matter “not a systemic issue”

(C-Span) – Washington, DC – May 23, 2012 – The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held an oversight hearing on the recent misconduct by Secret Service agents, entitled  “Secret Service on the Line: Restoring Trust and Confidence.”

The hearing examined whether there were warning signals before nine Secret Service employees were fired and three others disciplined for involvement with prostitutes in Colombia and what the Service can do to regain public trust.

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Interview with Cartagena “Escort” involved in Secret Service scandal (May 2012)

Pierre Thomas and Jason Ryan – (ABC News) – May 22, 2012 – A month after the Secret Service was rocked by allegations that agents brought prostitutes to a Colombia hotel where they were preparing for a visit by President Obama, the Drug Enforcement Administration today announced that at least three of its agents are also under investigation for allegedly hiring prostitutes in Cartagena.

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David Isenberg – (Isenberg Institute of Strategic Satire) – May 15, 2012 – Continuing on with the topic of worker exploitation let’s turn to a recently published, and unfortunately overlooked, article “Cheap help from Uganda” published in Le Monde diplomatique in France.. The article’s subtitle “Slaves To The Private Military In Iraq” pretty much tells you what the article is about.

The article recounts how private security firms won lucrative contracts to supply support staff and security guards to back up US forces in Iraq. The firms recruited Ugandans and pushed them to the limit, on low pay and no benefits.

Of course, this is hardly the first time this has happened. I noted in my book that in in September 2007, a Nevada-based private security ?rm called SOC-SMG started recruiting in Namibia. People there needed jobs, but when news spread about the risks they’d face in Iraq, there was public outcry, and in October Namibia kicked the company’s offcials out of the country.

Still, that episode is useful to recall because SOC-SMG is also mentioned in the Le Monde article.

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