WASHINGTON--()--McCahon Law Office founder Sam W. McCahon today issued the following statement regarding the “Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking in Persons in Federal Contracts” Executive Order:
“Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking in Persons in Federal Contracts”
“The Executive Order signed today by President Obama is a step in the right direction towards abolishing the abhorrent modern-day slavery that has been carried out since 2003 by many foreign contractors and subcontractors operating in U.S. military bases in the Middle East. President Obama is to be commended for stepping forward to bring an end to this odious practice, which has been a stain on the good name of the United States.
“Just as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 addressed bribery of foreign officials, today’s Executive Order puts those performing U.S. government contracts overseas on notice that they must ensure that foreign workers are treated fairly and humanely. In general, U.S. companies seek to comply with U.S. laws and mandates. But the same is not true for the subcontractors who supply overseas work forces, and today’s action makes U.S. prime contractors accountable for compliance of subcontractors they retain and control.
“As a former federal prosecutor who has lived and worked in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait, I have witnessed the gross mistreatment of these workers – designated by the government as Third Country Nationals (TCNs) – most of them natives of developing nations like India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Based on government data, a conservative estimate is that at least 500,000 TCNs have worked in support of our troops in combat zones and logistical support hubs in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar. Almost all have been the victims of human trafficking.
“Often uneducated, unable to speak either English or the language of the country to which they are trafficked, they are powerless to protect themselves. They are often deceived about their pay, work and living conditions. Some are told they will be working five-star hotels in peaceful regions of the Gulf – only to find that their plane has landed in a combat zone. Their passports are confiscated for ‘safekeeping’ and they are housed like animals in cramped and unsafe conditions. TCNs are almost always required to pay an illegal recruiting fee, usually by going deeply in debt to loan sharks. Once they arrive in-country, they are forced to work for half or less of the pay they were promised – having neither the means nor the money to return home. Like rockets and mortars, trafficking in TCNs became an institutionalized part of the combat zone landscape.
“Today’s executive order calls for putting a permanent end to these repugnant practices carried out in the name of the United States, just as Senate Bill 2234 would add criminal penalties for those who seek to continue those practices. This is a great day for the forces of good in the world. The United States has retaken the moral high ground.”
McCahon’s articles and Congressional testimony on this issue can be viewed in the Human Trafficking Practice section of the McCahon Law Office website: http://mccahonlaw.com.