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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

World

Obama signs executive order to combat human trafficking
PTI
Washington, September 26, 2012
First Published: 08:06 IST(26/9/2012)
Last Updated: 08:08 IST(26/9/2012)

The US President Barack Obama has signed an executive order aimed to tackle human trafficking in the country -- what he called as "modern day slavery."

According to the executive order, federal contractors are prohibit from using misleading recruitment practices, charging employees recruitment fees and destroying or confiscating workers' passports.

It requires that for work exceeding $500,000 that is performed abroad, federal contractors and subcontractors must maintain compliance plans appropriate for the nature and scope of the activities performed.

Such plans must include: an employee awareness program, a process for employees to report trafficking violations without fear of retaliation, and recruitment and housing plans.

Each of these contractors and subcontractors must also certify that neither it nor any of its contractors has engaged in trafficking-related activities, it said.

Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative, Obama said: "As President, I directed my administration to step up our efforts. We've expanded our interagency task force to include more federal partners, including the FBI. The intelligence community is devoting more resources to identifying trafficking networks. We've strengthened protections so that foreign-born workers know their rights."

With more than 20 million victims of human trafficking around the world, Obama said he has directed administration to increase our efforts.

"We are going to do more to spot it and stop it. We’ll prepare a new assessment of human trafficking in the United States so we better understand the scope and scale of the problem," he said.

"We are turning the tables on the traffickers. Just as they are now using technology and the Internet to exploit their victims, we're going to harness technology to stop them.

We're encouraging tech companies and advocates and law enforcement -- and we’re also challenging college students --to develop tools that our young people can use to stay safe online and on their smart phones," he said.

"We will do even more to help victims recover and rebuild their lives. We'll develop a new action plan to improve coordination across the federal government.

We're increasing access to services to help survivors become self-sufficient. We're working to simplify visa procedures for "T" visas so that innocent victims from other countries can stay here as they help us prosecute their traffickers," Obama said.

Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said that the Executive Order designed to thoroughly scrub all labor practices in US Government contracts is a step in the right direction.

"There should be no trace of human trafficking in federal contracts. This Executive Order will increase the capability of our Federal Agencies to thoroughly monitor all federal contracts and it will send a loud message to the slippery characters, who wish to exploit the lives and liberty of men and women around the world, that it will not be tolerated," he said.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, lead sponsor of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), applauded Obama's announcement at the Clinton Global Initiative of several new administration initiatives to help end human trafficking at home and around the world.

"We must do all we can to end this abhorrent practice which affects millions of people every day," he said.

"Trafficking is an affront to human dignity and a generator of human suffering that we cannot ignore. The United States is a beacon of hope for so many who face human rights abuses abroad.

We cannot further delay action while this injustice continues not only elsewhere in the world, but also here at home. As President Obama said today, passage of this bipartisan bill is a 'no-brainer'," Leahy said.


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