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Commander: Contractors violating U.S. trafficking laws

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posted on Apr, 24 2006 @ 07:46 PM
As has been recently discovered, the US contractors supporting our military in Iraq have apparently used techniques which squarely fall in the category of human trafficking, such as confiscating passports of labourers hired abroad. Other allegations include unfair hiring practices by the rectruiters and squalid living conditions of the workers.
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.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

I can understand that contractor's job in a warzone is a hard and sometimes cut-throat business (no pun intended). Still, it is appalling to see that these pratices appear to be widespread. At least it's good to hear that the military does something about it.

[edit on 25-4-2006 by Aelita]

[edit on 25-4-2006 by Aelita]

posted on Apr, 25 2006 @ 06:43 PM
Took them long enough to get on this...

Although allegations of such abuses began appearing in international press reports more than two years ago, and the Tribune's own investigation was published last October, one of the memos calls on the military and the State Department to develop "an effective media strategy emphasizing the (military) Command's pro-active response to the problem."

Separate records also show that similar allegations had been raised in September 2004 with Joseph Schmitz, who was then the Department of Defense inspector general.

Schmitz did not respond in any detail until nearly a year later, saying in an Aug. 25, 2005, letter to Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., that there was a "list of corrective measures" ordered by coalition military officials in Iraq following "a preliminary inquiry" into the allegations. The letter did not mention passport seizures or violations of U.S. laws against human trafficking, but said living conditions "required further attention" and that officials were "monitoring the status of corrections" purportedly under way.

Schmitz resigned about two weeks later amid accusations that he stonewalled investigations. He took a job with Blackwater USA, a private security contractor.

The workers they hire come thru many levels of 'headhunters', each collecting job-seeker fees and making many promises along the way. Not unlike the coyotes bringing illegals into the US from Mexico?

And the US thinks they can set the example of how democracy works with this kind of stuff going on?

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