Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Slavery's Global Comeback
6 DEC 19 2012, 7:44 AM ET 5
J.J. GOULD - J.J. Gould is deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He has written for The Washington Monthly, The American Prospect, The Moscow Times, and The European Journal of Political Theory
Buying and selling people into forced labor is bigger than ever. What "human trafficking" really means.
Slaves pan for gold in Accra, Ghana. Many have children with them as they wade in water poisoned by mercury that's used in the extraction process. (Lisa Kristine)
RANGOON, Burma -- Earlier this year, Ko Lin, 21 at the time, left his hometown of Bago, 50 miles northeast of Rangoon, along with a friend to look for work in Myawaddy, near the Thai border. The two found jobs there as day laborers loading and offloading goods, anything from rice to motorcycles, that were being illicitly transported by truck in and out of Thailand. After a month, Ko Lin had saved up the equivalent of about US$150 and decided to rejoin his family in Bago. Stopping first to pray at a local pagoda, the two friends met a super-amiable young woman who ended up pitching them an offer to work in Thailand. Her uncle, she said, could arrange a great job for them there.
Ko Lin was reluctant but bent to his friend's enthusiasm. The uncle turned out to be a trafficker who forced them to walk through the jungle for more than a week. They ended up in weeks of forced labor in Chonburi, a city 60 miles east of Bangkok, after which Ko Lin was knocked unconscious and woke up separated from his friend on a fishing boat in the Gulf of Thailand. For months, he then rarely if ever had more than two hours of sleep a night, always on a shared, cramped bed; he was given three meals only on days when the captain felt he'd pulled in enough fish to earn it; and when he was fed, it was always dregs from a catch that couldn't be sold on the market. His arms regularly became infected from the extended exposure of minor wounds to sea water. If he complained that he was feeling unwell, the crew would beat him. He was injured multiple times by heavy blocks and booms, once having to tend to a head wound himself with a handful of wet rice. Three months out, Ko Lin was rescued in a police raid.
There are now twice as many people enslaved in the world as there were in the 350 years of the transatlantic slave trade. Ma Moe, 34, and her husband lived in a suburb about an hour outside of Rangoon, poor enough that some days they had nothing to eat. A friend offered her a job as a domestic worker in China where, she was told, she could make between $100 and $200 a month. Despite her husband's objections, she decided to go. Near the border, her friend told her the trip would be getting rough and she should take some pills so she wouldn't get carsick. The pills knocked her out almost immediately. When she woke up, she was in a small village in China; she still doesn't know where. Kept with a few other women in a small house, Ma Moe would be taken around to different villages where she was offered up for purchase as a "wife." After a failed escape attempt, when she was beaten by local police, a man from northern China bought her. Given the anxious month-and-a-half she'd now spent as a Burmese commodity in China, she could hardly eat from the stress and was emaciated. Concerned, wanting a child, the man who bought her had her blood tested; the results showed she's HIV-positive; and he ended up leaving her at the bus station. With no hope of being able to get back to Burma, she prayed to die there. But a young newspaper seller, after fending off an attempt by another apparent trafficker to get Ma Moe to go with him, called a Chinese police hotline for trafficking victims. The police coordinated Ma Moe's transfer to a Burmese anti-trafficking task force, and they ultimately took her home.
There's a plain-language word for the horror stories that Ko Lin and Ma Moe have survived, as anachronistic as it might sound: slavery. Contemporary slavery is real, and it's terribly common -- here in Burma, across Southeast Asia, and around the world.
The leading demographic accounts of contemporary slavery project a global slave population of between 20 million and 30 million people. Most of these people have been unknowingly trafficked though the promise of opportunity by predators. Others are children literally sold by parents or relatives in order to pay off debt or to lessen their economic burden. The highest ratios of slaves worldwide are from South and Southeast Asia, along with China, Russia, Albania, Belarus, and Romania. There is a significant slave presence across North Africa and the Middle East, including Lebanon. There is also a major slave trade in Africa. Decent-based slavery persists in Mauritania, where children of slaves are passed on to their slave-holders' children. And the North Korean gulag system, which holds 200,000 people, is essentially a constellation of slave-labor camps. But most contemporary slavery is based on trafficking -- based on varying combinations of deception and coercion, very mobile, very dynamic, leveraging communications and logistics in the same basic way modern businesses do generally. After the earthquake of 2010 devastated Haiti, Hispaniola was quickly overrun with opportunistic traffickers targeting children to sell into domestic slavery or brothels.
As pervasive as contemporary slavery is, it hasn't come clearly into focus as a global issue until relatively recently. There are a couple of big reasons why -- one having to do with the scale of the problem, the other with the concept of slavery itself.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates the number of slaves in the world today at around 21 million. Kevin Bales, of Free the Slaves -- the U.S. affiliate of the world's oldest human-rights organization, the U.K.-based Anti-Slavery International -- (and the author of Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy) puts it at 27 million. Siddharth Kara of Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy says more than 29 million.
That range represents a tightening consensus. In the 1990s, some accounts had the world's slave population as high as 100 million; others had it as low as 2 million. "It was nuts," says Bales. "I traced all these numbers back. The 100-million number, I finally found this guy in India who'd said it at at UN conference. I asked him, 'How did you get that?' And he said, 'I don't know, it was just a guess.' So nobody had the number."
Bales's 27 million -- which as a statistician he considers a "conservative estimate" -- is derived from secondary-source analysis. "It's still not great," he says, "in the sense that it's not based on random-sample surveys at the grass-roots level. We're doing that now, though, building much sounder numbers, and they're still coming out in the same range. ... So we're getting closer."
In which case, assuming even the rough accuracy of 27 million, there are likely more slaves in the world today than there have been at any other time in human history. For some quick perspective on that point: Over the entire 350 years of the transatlantic slave trade, 13.5 million people were taken out of Africa, meaning there are twice as many enslaved right now as there had been in that whole 350-year span.
Some of what's obscured contemporary slavery, then, has been mathematical; but some has been conceptual: In the West, and particularly in the United States, slavery has long settled in the public imagination as being categorically a thing of the past.
One consequence of this is that when people apply the idea of slavery to current events, they tend to think of it as an analogy. That is, they tend to use the word to dramatize conditions that may be exploitive -- e.g., terrible wages or toxic working environments -- but that we'd never on their own call "slavery" if the kind of forced labor we used to call "slavery" still existed. "In 1994, when I was in the United Nations Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery," Bales recalls, "a group came in and said they wanted the UN to declare incest a form of slavery. And we were like, incest is incest; you don't have to call it slavery."
But there's a reverse consequence to seeing slavery as a thing of the past, too: It can mean having a harder time recognizing slavery when it's right in front of us.
A slave in Kathmandu, Nepal, stacks 18 bricks at a time, each weighing four pounds, carrying them to nearby trucks for 18 hours a day. (Lisa Kristine)
Right after the end of the Cold War, people in Western cities -- in Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, London, New York -- started noticing something pronounced about migration patterns out of the just-collapsed Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc: The "immigrants" were disproportionately young women and girls. It took no one long to understand that they were prostitutes, and it took few much longer to get that they weren't operating freely; criminals were trafficking them out of Eurasia effectively as black-market goods, like opium or Kalashnikovs.
The dominant rhetoric that the coalition of Christian conservatives and anti-prostitution feminists who took the lead on this issue used at the time wasn't "slavery" but "trafficking for sexual exploitation." Around the same time, a movement developed against sweatshop labor that ended up focusing not broadly on the issue of forced labor but narrowly on the conditions of the sweatshops themselves, sometimes even just on safety issues within them.
Luis CdeBaca, the U.S. ambassador at large to monitor and combat trafficking in persons, sees both of these frameworks as inhibiting and, intentionally or not, ways to feel too comfortable about addressing the issues in question. "If we say the problem with domestic servants is that they're not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, and so let's just go out and make sure they get covered by labor laws around the world, we get to ignore, for example, the fact that domestic servants are being locked in and raped. It's not a wage issue; it's a crime issue. If we look at prostitution and we devolve back to the old debates about whether prostitution should be legal and regulated, should it be illegal and criminalized, we won't say, '... hey, why doesn't the 13th Amendment apply to a woman in prostitution just as much as to a woman on a farm?' Then we end up missing the reality of modern slavery."
CdeBaca thinks we've been using euphemisms about slavery in our recent history scarcely less euphemistic than were "servant" or "peculiar institution" before the U.S. Civil War, noting current preferences for "gender-based violence" or "rape as a weapon of war" to describe what goes on in eastern Congo. "If rape becomes the more comfortable word than slavery," CdeBaca says, "you know slavery is a highly emotive term."
But if the president of the United States has nevertheless embraced the term "slavery," as Barack Obama has now done with his speech at the Clinton Global Institute in September, you know it's also an emotive term whose time has come -- or come again. The State Department, meanwhile, now answers the question "What is modern slavery?" by implying, virtually to the point of stating, that it now considers "slavery" the umbrella term for crimes of "trafficking":
Over the past 15 years, "trafficking in persons" and "human trafficking" have been used as umbrella terms for activities involved when someone obtains or holds a person in compelled service.
The United States government considers trafficking in persons to include all of the criminal conduct involved in forced labor and sex trafficking, essentially the conduct involved in reducing or holding someone in compelled service. Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act as amended (TVPA) and consistent with the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol), individuals may be trafficking victims regardless of whether they once consented, participated in a crime as a direct result of being trafficked, were transported into the exploitative situation, or were simply born into a state of servitude. Despite a term that seems to connote movement, at the heart of the phenomenon of trafficking in persons are the many forms of enslavement, not the activities involved in international transportation.
CdeBaca understands the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the Palermo Protocol that State mentions here, both dating from 2000, to be crucial preconditions for the change in social conceptions about human trafficking and forced labor that have followed. Usually the dynamic is the other way around, CdeBaca says: A social movement grows and, if it's successful, after 10 years or so, Congress passes legislation or the UN (or some other international body) passes a resolution. With contemporary slavery, more than a decade of governmental and trans-governmental initiatives have seeded the social conversation, which has in turn taken the lead in articulating the emerging consensus around the language of contemporary slavery.
CdeBaca thinks this consensus is hugely consequential, not just domestically in the U.S. -- where Obama has now not only embraced this language but issued an executive order to remove human trafficking and forced labor from federal contracting -- but globally. "The fact that we're able to come into a place like Burma, which has come so far so fast just in the last 10 or 12 months, with this unified message is wonderful," he says, "because the government here isn't going to have to unlearn those differences. When we talked to the government [on Friday], they were talking about forced labor and forced prostitution as though they're the same concept. We didn't have to talk through 'here's why you need to care about forced labor as much as you care about forced prostitution,' or 'here's why the girls in the brothels matter.' They got it. And I think it's because they come into this at this moment, now."
The New Abolitionism
It's to the not-modest credit of modern civilization that the awareness of slavery has always given rise to anti-slavery movements. Abolitionism today may be more complex than what went before it only because it has to be. Contemporary slavery is, as Ethan Kapstein wrote in Foreign Affairs back in 2006, "a product of the same political, technological, and economic forces that have fueled globalization" -- or as Andrew Forrest, the chairman of Fortescue Metals Group and founder of the anti-slavery group Walk Free, has it, "Slavery is the dark side of globalization."
In essence, organizations like Walk Free, or the Global Business Coalition Against Trafficking (gBCAT), want harness the good, or at least potentially good, aspects of globalization to eliminate its most evil aspect. Forrest believes that it now makes maximum sense for big global businesses to integrate their risk-management strategies with their corporate-social-responsibility strategies and their procurement strategies, cleaning their supply chains once and for all of any involvement with forced labor. Forrest believes in the constructive power of potential shame, too, with his current campaign to recruit major businesses around the world to sign on to Walk Free's "zero tolerance for slavery pledge."
Slavery today is driven by the same political, technological, and economic forces as globalization itself. Projects like this won't necessarily be easy; in fact, their success will necessarily be a tough question. There are certainly precedents for it: Nike may be one of the most slave-free garment manufacturers in the world today, because it got hammered for its labor practices in the 1990s by a very successful campaign against it as a brand -- brand equity being a very important, very bottom-line issue for a company like Nike. But what if we're looking instead at a mining company that needs to procure concrete for railway tracks to get its materials out, and the best deal on concrete is made by slave labor in Abu Dhabi by some nameless supplier? There's no brand equity at stake there. Mineral extraction is a similarly faceless industry. We all know who makes our cell phones; few of us know who makes the tantalum and coltan that go into them. That doesn't have to be note of cynicism, but it does get at the complexity of the challenge in leveraging global business's better angels against its worst instincts.
There will meanwhile be new opportunities for political will against slavery, particularly now that Obama has used the word -- new legislative efforts, new instruments of international cooperation -- and new opportunities to build important capacities, with law enforcement, with victim care and rehabilitation, and so on.
And then there will be social-awareness campaigns -- which may represent the one strand of the contemporary anti-slavery movement skeptical observers are more inclined to be cynical about than they are about the leadership of global business on the issue. If you're tempted to think that way, consider before anything else that here in Rangoon, it's not only perfectly reasonable but a vital public-service announcement to say, "Kids, this is how you recognize it if someone's trying to trick you into slavery, and this is what you do about it ...." When I asked Ma Moe, who'd been sold into slavery by a friend, what was the most important thing she wanted people to understand about her experience, she lit up emotionally in a way she hadn't up to then, insisting emphatically on how crucial it is that people in Burma -- especially young people -- get the coaching they need to insulate themselves and their families from the risk of being trafficked, particularly given how sophisticated traffickers are at profiling victims and preying on trust.
Neither is any of this the hard part compared with the complex task of modulating or outright changing kinds of social norms that heighten the risk of capture by traffickers, particularly in contexts governed by a caste system or other forms of entrenched social hierarchy. Which aren't uncommon across South and Southeast Asia, and which can create barriers to human empathy every bit as powerful as what morally and psychologically enabled the open slave trade of the 16th-19th centuries.
There are historical reasons why social awareness of slavery could be more effective on the global level than we might first be inclined to think.
"Stowage of the British Slave Ship 'Brookes' Under the Regulated Slave Trade, Act of 1788" (Thomas Clarkson)
As Bales likes to remember, there have been three major anti-slavery movements in the modern era prior to the nascent contemporary one. The first was started in 1787 by Anti-Slavery International -- or as it was called at the time, the Society for Effecting the Termination of the Slave Trade -- in London. Twenty years later, the slave trade in the British Empire was finished. This worked completely through social mobilization; in fact, it was one of the first major social movements in the West. The Society inundated parliament with huge petitions against slavery -- 517 altogether. It passed around anti-slavery cameos that fashionable women wore in bracelets and pins. And it disseminated Thomas Clarkson's drawing of the Liverpool-based slave ship Brookes, showing the horrible reality that slaves were forced to cross the Atlantic packed in like sardines, lying in their own excrement and vomit, for months. This picture was extremely shocking -- and effective.
The second anti-slavery movement was marked by some of the most decisive moral leadership in U.S. history, but it was also thwarted by a virtually total social division between the North and the South, with virtually total Southern intransigence, and culminated an enormous war that resulted in more than a million deaths, counting civilian casualties, and ended in results for the United States' former slaves that abolitionists could only be very partially proud of, if at all, and that has cast a long shadow since.
Hierarchical societies still create empathy barriers as powerful as what enabled the open slave trade of the 16th-19th centuries. The third movement is less well known but offers a precedent for contemporary abolitionism that may be in some ways as compelling as the first. This was the global movement, which included luminaries like Mark Twain and Sarah Bernhardt, against the enslavement of between 5 and 10 million people in the Congo as the personal property of King Leopold II of Belgium. The purpose of this enslavement was to feed new technologies, particularly pneumatic rubber tires. But the breakthrough for this movement was also thanks to new technologies: portable cameras that enabled abolitionists to do magic-lantern shows in big theaters everywhere -- a kind of documentary film before there were documentary films -- detailing the destitution in the Congo, which truly freaked viewers out and helped mobilize the public broadly. After this anti-slavery campaign captured the photos it captured and showed them across Western Europe and in North America, Leopold, who had completely denied everything until then -- and he could, because there was no way to prove what he was doing -- gave up, ended the enslavement, and, in 1908, relinquished the Congo to the Belgian government.
Let's see what the fourth one does. The most optimistic view says that as massive as slavery is today, it's also on the edge of its own extinction, needing only the right push. If the global slave population is 27 million, it's still 27 million out of a total of 7 billion, making it -- and here's the paradox -- the smallest fraction of the global population to be enslaved ever. If slavery generates between $30 billion and $45 billion a year to the global economy, it's a big industry, but it also amounts to the smallest ratio of the global economy ever represented by slave labor and slave output. While slavery has grown in absolute terms, it's shrunk in relative terms, and so, the theory goes, it's increasingly vulnerable.
A possibly less optimistic but still hopeful variation on this theme -- well clear of the most pessimistic view, at any rate, which would be that slavery is simply endemic to global capitalism -- is that slavery isn't just growing more slowly than the rest of the world is; it's also increasingly toxic to the rest of the world; and it's increasingly toxic in ways that the rest of the world will be forced to defend itself against. The same interests responsible for human trafficking and forced labor are, after all, also responsible for fostering other types of crime, as well as the kinds of corruption that slave-labor operations need for survival. If developed countries let slavery go unchecked, it will threaten to corrode the bilateral and multilateral agreements, and the international rule of law, that the whole global economy depends on. If developing countries don't check it, it may or may not mean slower short-term growth, but it definitely complicate long-term growth growth, or stunt it altogether, as outside investors bring more scrutiny and demand more transparency. In the meantime, the more visible an issue slavery becomes globally, the less inclined I'd be to forget some of the social uses mobile technology and social media been put to around the world in the last two years -- or to ignore the analogies between these uses and some of the tactics of the first and third modern anti-slavery movements.
The relationship between a country's tacit willingness to abide slavery and that country's risk of being left behind by the currents of global civilization isn't one that Burmese officials are necessarily inclined to discuss candidly. When I asked Brigadier General Kin Maung Si, the chief of police and head of the ministry of home affairs's human-trafficking office, about his government's emerging commitment to eliminating forced labor, he spoke only of poor economic conditions as a cause of slavery, not of slavery as a cause of economic stagnation. But it's a relationship that his government's new commitments acknowledge implicitly.
It's also a relationship that the leading exponents of the second modern anti-slavery movement were emphatic about and staked their own political reasoning on. As The Atlantic's first editor, James Russell Lowell, wrote in the magazine's endorsement of Abraham Lincoln for president in 1860:
The inevitable tendency of slavery is to concentrate in a few hands the soil, the capital, and the power of the countries where it exists, to reduce the non-slaveholding class to a continually lower and lower level of property, intelligence, and enterprise. ... We do not, of course, mean to say that slaveholding states may not and do not produce fine men; but they fail, by the inherent vice of their constitution and its attendant consequences, to create enlightened, powerful, and advancing communities of men, which is the true object of all political organization.
This reporting was sponsored by MTV EXIT
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Suspect in human trafficking faces deportation from PH
By Tetch Torres
10:58 am | Tuesday, December 18th, 2012
2 23 16
Geralyn Quezo, 17, (R) looks on as she stands by a fellow victim of human trafficking at the Visayan Forum Foundation’s halfway house in Manila, 09 July 2007. AFP FILE PHOTO
MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration has started deportation proceedings against a foreigner suspected of having ties with a human trafficking syndicate that provides fake Philippine passports to Chinese nationals travelling in the country.
Acting Immigration intelligence chief Ma. Antonette Mangrobang identified the foreigner, a Singaporean national, as Law Suang See. Mangrobang said See was with a Chinese companion Jianhuang Guo, 37. They were both arrested at the NAIA 3 terminal last December 12 when the duo arrived a Cebu Pacific flight from Macau. Both are presently detained at the immigration jail in Bicutan, Taguig pending deportation proceedings. Mangrobang said the passengers were apprehended after Guo presented a Philippine passport in the name of Johnny Dela Cruz Que which turned out to be spurious. She said Guo’s inability to speak in Filipino aroused the suspicion of immigration officers who then doubted the authenticity of his Philippine passport. At this point, See admitted that his companion could not talk in the language and that he was actually a Chinese national. He then produced his companion’s Chinese passport and identication card as a holder of a special resident reiteree’s visa. Guo was also carrying a birth certificate purportedly issued by the National Statistics Office, an NBI clearance and Taxpayer’s Identication Number (TIN) card.
Monday, December 17, 2012
ASON MRAZ TOPS MYANMAR ANTI-TRAFFICKING CONCERT
By YADANA HTUN
— Dec. 17 12:09 AM EST
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — American singer-songwriter Jason Mraz mixed entertainment with education to become the first world-class entertainer in decades to perform in Myanmar, with a concert to raise awareness of human trafficking.
Mraz's 2008 hit "I'm Yours" was the finale for Sunday night's concert before a crowd of about 50,000 people at the base of the famous hilltop Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, the country's biggest city.
Local artists, including a hip-hop singer, also played at the event organized by the anti-trafficking media group MTV EXIT — for "End Exploitation and Trafficking" —in cooperation with U.S. and Australian government aid agencies and the anti-slavery organization Walk Free.
Myanmar is emerging from decades of isolation under a reformist elected government that took office last year after almost five decades of military rule. It has been one of the region's poorest countries, and its bad human rights record made it the target of political and economic sanctions by Western nations.
But democratic reforms initiated by President Thein Sein have led to the lifting of most sanctions, and the country is hopeful of a political and economic revival. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy opposition leader, was released from house arrest in late 2010 and won a seat in parliament last April.
Mraz called his top-billed appearance at the concert a "tremendous honor."
"I think the country is, at this time, downloading lots of new information from all around the world," he said. "I've always wanted my music to be here, (for) hope and celebration, peace, love and happiness. And so I'm delighted that my music can be a part of this big download that Myanmar is experiencing right now."
Organizers said Mraz was the first international artist to perform at an open-air, mass public concert in Myanmar. Jazz artists Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Charlie Byrd visited the country under U.S. government sponsorship in the 1970s, when it was still called Burma, but played at much smaller venues.
Many in the crowd queued for two hours before being admitted to the concert site. Yangon native Sann Oo, 31, wearing a white T-shirt with a sketch of Mraz, said he was pleased that Mraz had come and that there would be a broadcast of the event.
"His visit can promote the image of Myanmar, because people outside have been seeing the country as an insecure place, and poor," he said. "Now they can see how we look like from the concert. It also opens the potential for more concerts by foreign artists."
Mraz has a history of involvement with human rights and other social causes.
But there was some criticism of his visit by campaigners for Myanmar's Muslim Rohingya community, which has been the target of ethnic-based violence this year that has forced tens of thousands of people from their homes into makeshift refugee camps. They feel Myanmar's government has been complicit in the discrimination, and that Mraz's visit provides it cover with the image of being a defender of human rights.
Mraz said he was aware of the issue, but that if he didn't come to do the concert because someone else had asked him to protest another problem, then that would not help tackle the exploitation and human trafficking issue.
"I understand that there is a lot of wrongdoing in this world," he said. "Today I'm here for this."
Walk Free used the occasion of Sunday's concert to launch a campaign calling on the world's major corporations "to work together to end modern slavery by identifying, eradicating and preventing forced labor in their operations and supply chains." They are seeking to have the companies make a "zero tolerance for slavery pledge" by the end of March next year.
"While many think of slavery as a relic of history, experts estimate that there are currently 20.9 million people living under threat of violence, abuse and harsh penalties," the Australia-based group said in a statement. "Within this massive number, the majority of people - more than 14.2 million - are in a forced labor situation, used to source raw materials, and create products in sectors such as agriculture, construction, manufacturing and domestic work."
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Human Trafficking: California and President Obama Lay Out New Requirements for Prevention of Human Trafficking and Forced Labor
December 2012 marks the beginning of a new compliance regime. California Attorney General Kamala Harris heads into the new year with a list of targets provided by the California Franchise Board, which identifies those companies that must be compliant with an anti-human trafficking statute that puts their international supply chains in the domestic crosshairs. In addition, President Obama recently signed an executive order that lays out new requirements for government contractors and their subcontractors to prevent human trafficking and forced labor. If your company finds itself out of compliance under either of these new mandates, you run the risk of injunction, civil claims and perhaps the greatest risk to brand protection: the public government statement that your company is supported through its supply chain by a "slave-based" workforce.
With the increased international focus rightly placed on stopping the tragedies associated with the crime of human trafficking, businesses need to evaluate their own policies to confirm compliance with these laws, but more importantly, to make sure they are not unwittingly drawn into larger media scrutiny of this global problem.
Corporate Social Responsibility
The trend toward corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies that promote good corporate citizenship has greatly accelerated over the past decade. For example, Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government launched a CSR Initiative in 2004 based on the "underlying premise that while governments ultimately bear the responsibility for ensuring public welfare, there is a need to construct a new understanding of the roles, responsibilities and boundaries of the private sector, especially major corporations, and to explore new types of partnership, and new governance and business models for creating public value."
In recent years, a number of large companies have joined the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI), which has established corporate codes of practice implementing human rights, ethical labor practices and environmental protection standards. Some companies also have agreed to implement the CSR principles of the United Nations Global Compact, which promotes "ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption." In response to real concerns about labor exploitation in the developing world, many companies have felt compelled to develop CSR policies and procedures to police their supply chains to ensure they are not making or selling products that are tainted by human trafficking, slavery and child labor.
California Transparency in Supply Chains Act
In September 2010 California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law California Senate Bill 657, the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 (the Act), which is codified in California's Civil Code and Revenue and Taxation Code (Cal. Civ. Code §1714.43; Cal. Rev. & Tax Code §19547.5) and became effective on January 1, 2012. (Cal. Civ. Code §1714.43(e)). The stated purpose of the Act is to "provide consumers with information regarding [companies'] efforts to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from their supply chains" and to "educate consumers on how to purchase goods produced by companies that responsibly manage their supply chains." This sweeping new legislation requires qualifying companies to detail and publicly disclose the nature and scope of their corporate compliance efforts to eliminate human trafficking, slavery and child labor from their global supply chains.
Although the Act does not define "trafficking" and "human slavery," the preamble to the Act references the federal Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 and the United States Department of Labor report in 2009. Both of these references adopt the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime definition of "trafficking in persons," as "the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation."
The Act requires any company that is a retail seller or manufacturer, does business in California and has annual worldwide gross receipts that exceed $100 million, to disclose its efforts to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from the company's direct supply chain for tangible goods offered for sale. A "retail seller" means a business entity with retail trade as its principal business activity code, as reported on the entity's tax return. A "manufacturer" means a business entity with manufacturing as its principal business activity code, as reported on the entity's tax return. A company is deemed to be "doing business in California" if:
It is organized or commercially domiciled in California.
Sales in California for the applicable tax year exceed the lesser of $500,000 or 25 percent of the company's total sales.
The real property and the tangible personal property of the company in California exceeds the lesser of $50,000 or 25 percent of the company's total real property and tangible property.
The amount paid in California by the company for compensation exceeds the lesser of $50,000 or 25 percent of the total compensation paid by the company.
Any company that is subject to the Act must disclose its actions, if any, in five separate categories:
Verify product supply chains to evaluate and address risks of human trafficking and slavery, and disclose if the verification was not conducted by a third party.
Audit suppliers to evaluate their compliance with company standards for human trafficking and slavery in supply chains, and disclose if said audits were not independent and unannounced.
Require direct suppliers to certify that materials used in the product comply with the laws regarding human trafficking and slavery of the country or countries in which they are doing business.
Maintain internal accountability standards and procedures for employees or contractors failing to meet company standards regarding human trafficking and slavery.
Train company employees and managers who have direct responsibility for supply chain management on human trafficking and slavery, particularly on how to mitigate such risks within supply chains.
The five categories of disclosures mandated by the Act must be posted on a company's website with a conspicuous link on the homepage. In the event that a company does not maintain a website, a written disclosure must be provided to a consumer within 30 days of a written request.
The Act empowers the California attorney general to bring injunctive relief actions against companies to enforce compliance with the Act. The Act directs the California Franchise Tax Board to provide the state's attorney general with a list of companies required to disclose based on tax returns filed for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2011. The initial list was given to the attorney general on November 30, 2012, and a new list will be submitted each year on November 30.
September 25, 2012 Executive Order: Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking in Persons in Federal Contracts
Signed on the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, President Obama's Executive Order is designed to strengthen compliance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) among companies that contract and subcontract with the federal government. Adopting a zero tolerance policy regarding "trafficking" in persons, the order covers a wide range of unlawful activity such as: the use of forced or coerced labor to perform any part of the work required by a government contract; the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery; or the procurement of a "commercial sex act" — which means an act in which anything of value is given in return for sex — or a sex act that is induced by force, fraud, or coercion or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.
This Executive Order imposes enhanced obligations for contractors and subcontractors to act affirmatively to prevent trafficking and forced labor, including a formal compliance program and annual certifications of compliance. More specifically, this order requires companies working for the U.S. government to comply with a series of basic conduct requirements. These include prohibitions against misleading or fraudulent recruitment practices during the recruitment of employees; charging employees recruitment fees; and destroying, confiscating, or otherwise denying access to employee identification documents (passport, driver's license, etc.). It also requires contractors and subcontractors to pay return transportation costs for employees traveling to take expatriate jobs, permit full audits and inspections, and to notify the inspector general of any non-compliance.
For those companies that sell or contract for goods or services outside of the U.S. — valued at $500,000 or more — each must maintain a compliance plan during the term of the contract which includes:
an awareness program for employees regarding human trafficking
a process for reporting potential violations
a recruitment and wage plan that ensures that wages meet applicable host country legal requirements or explains any variance
a housing plan that ensures that the housing meets host country housing and safety standards or explains any variance
procedures to prevent subcontractors from engaging in trafficking in persons, and to monitor, detect and terminate any subcontractors or subcontractor employees that have engaged in these activities
Creating a Culture of CSR Compliance
These new legislative efforts add to the growing pressure on companies to develop risk management and compliance policies that advance responsible corporate citizenship. Many large companies are likely covered by the above mandates, even if the activities that these companies perform in California or the U.S. are relatively small.
Accordingly, companies must take steps now to create a culture of CSR compliance to ensure their procedures are accurate and reflect well on their corporate reputations. Not only do the mandates require specific actions, but the media and the public at large seem unlikely to absolve organizations that have made little effort to investigate their risks in this area. The mandates require disclosure, but inaccurate disclosures will be a separate and distinct problem in their own right, one that could bring civil liability along with government action. This international due diligence needs to be coordinated with other legal and regulatory compliance obligations so that you can maximize the efficiencies from your existing compliance and internal investigation efforts associated with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and other anti-corruption statutes. Companies must be proactive in developing appropriate CSR compliance measures to avoid injunctions or civil actions, stay competitive and ensure that their public image is not tarnished by irresponsible corporate citizenship.
For more information on these legal topics, or to learn about the pro bono work Holland & Knight lawyers are doing to help child victims of human trafficking and how your company can help in these efforts, contact the authors of this alert.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Hyatt to Honor Human Rights Day by Launching Global Training Program to Combat Human Trafficking
By Business Wirevia The Motley Fool
Posted 7:35PM 12/10/12
Hyatt to Honor Human Rights Day by Launching Global Training Program to Combat Human Trafficking
Continually recognized as a "Best Place to Work," Hyatt aims to educate associates on importance of upholding human rights in daily lives, communities and the workplace
CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Hyatt celebrates Human Rights Day today by highlighting Hyatt's commitment to respecting fundamental human rights, as embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To mark Human Rights Day, Hyatt is advancing its campaign against human trafficking by launching a global training program for company associates developed in conjunction with the Polaris Project, an organization dedicated to combating human trafficking.
The program is designed to provide managers and line staff at Hyatt hotels around the world with an understanding of human trafficking, its intersection with the hotel industry and the tools to recognize and report potential situations or victims.
"At Hyatt, we want to ensure our associates know how they can help prevent human trafficking," said Brigitta Witt, VP of Corporate Responsibility, Hyatt. "The training course further bolsters Hyatt's support for human rights and raises everyone's sensitivity to this critically important issue," she said.
This commitment to human rights is aligned with Hyatt's core values and is supported by its publicly available Human Rights Statement, Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, Supplier Code of Conduct, and its Diversity and Inclusion strategy.
Hyatt established Diversity and Inclusion as a core tenet of its U.S. operations more than 20 years ago. Since then, a growing number of programs strive to foster similar ideals and challenge associates to lead by example by embracing diversity and inclusion through associate training, recruiting and retention, as well as bringing our suppliers and developers into the fold.
"At Hyatt, our mission is to provide authentic hospitality by making a difference in the lives of the people we touch every day," Witt said. "It's about finding ways for our associates to relate in unique and personal ways to people of all nationalities and walks of life, whether they are guests, co-workers, business partners or members of the community."
Consistently recognized as one of the top places to work across the country, last month, the Human Rights Campaign once again recognized Hyatt as one of the best places to work for LGBT Equality, granting the company a 100 percent rating on its 2013 Corporate Equality Index for the ninth consecutive year.
Additionally, Hyatt's employee network groups promote basic business networking of Hyatt colleagues who share a common cultural heritage, race, gender, age or interest. These groups and other initiatives have resulted in countless awards and accolades in recognition of Hyatt's commitment to a diverse workplace.
Most recently, Hyatt was selected as the No. 2 place to work in Chicago in the Chicago Tribune's "2012 Top 100 Workplaces" list following a survey of Chicagoland associates from eight area hotels and the company's corporate headquarters.
From Baltimore to Orlando, from Chicago to Austin, and from Denver to Santa Clara, Hyatt hotels are among the "Best Places to Work" and are continually recognized as a leader in promoting and nurturing a diverse workforce.http://www.dailyfinance.com/2012/12/10/hyatt-to-honor-human-rights-day-by-launching-globa/?a_dgi=aolshare_twitter
Monday, December 10, 2012
Gov't launches revitalised human trafficking education drive
Sunday, December 09, 2012 | 1:57 PM
SCORES of Corporate Area residents, particularly students, were sensitised about the scourge of human trafficking when the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons kicked off its renewed public education programme on December 7 at the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre in St Andrew.
Under the chairmanship of the ministries of national security and justice, the task force has embarked on the revitalised campaign, in recognition of the fact that a targeted, well-sustained education programme, is vital in preventing and protecting the most vulnerable from falling victims to human trafficking.
National Security Minister Peter Bunting, pointed out that one of the challenges of tackling human trafficking is that the issue is “not at the top of mind of most Jamaicans or most persons in the world,” hence the necessity to create greater awareness about this “modern-day slavery”.
“A critical success factor will be raising people’s awareness and our whole communication programme (including) lectures conducted by members of the security forces, social workers, etcetera, will all be geared around giving them information to be able to recognise human trafficking offences,” he said.
Bunting said that sensitisation is important as many people do not fully understand or recognise human trafficking. He reminded that the key element of human trafficking is not so much the movement of people, but the exploitation aspect. “It is exploitation either through force or trickery or some other means,” he noted.
Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Gov-t-launches-revitalised-human-trafficking-education-drive?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter#ixzz2EeFo8OVE
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Gifts That Change Lives
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: December 5, 2012 11 Comments
Looking for an unusual holiday gift? How about a $60 trio of rabbits to a family in Haiti in the name of someone special? Bunnies raise a farming family’s income because they, well, reproduce like rabbits — six litters a year! Heifer International arranges the gift on its Web site (heifer.org).
Damon Winter/The New York Times
Nicholas D. Kristof
On the Ground
Or for $52 you can buy your uncle something more meaningful than a necktie: send an Afghan girl to school for a year in his name, through the International Rescue Committee (rescue.org).
Yes, it’s time for my annual holiday-giving guide. The question I most often get from readers is “what can I do?” This column is an answer. As in past years, I’m highlighting small organizations because you’re less likely to know about them.
Shining Hope for Communities (shininghopeforcommunities.org) was started by Kennedy Odede, a slum-dweller in Nairobi, Kenya, who taught himself to read. A visiting American gave him a book on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and it inspired Odede to organize local residents to fight against social injustice — particularly sexual violence, because his 16-year-old sister had just been raped.
Odede now runs an outstanding girls’ school in the heart of the Kibera slum in Nairobi, along with a clinic, a water and sanitation program, and job training classes. That slum school is one of the most hopeful places I’ve ever visited.
After I wrote about Shining Hope in 2011, Times readers contributed $180,000, leading to a huge expansion so that Shining Hope (mostly through the clinic) now serves some 36,000 people. Another nearby slum, Mathare, has invited Odede to start a girls’ school there if he can find the resources.
Dr. Hawa Abdi (vitalvoices.org/hawafund) runs a hospital, school and refugee camp in war-torn Somalia. She became an obstetrician-gynecologist partly because her mother had died in childbirth, and she has focused on helping rural Somali women.
The land around her 400-bed hospital, outside of Mogadishu, has become an encampment serving up to 90,000 people made homeless by war. Hawa has provided water, health care and education, and when students transfer to Mogadishu they are up to three grades ahead of children there. Hawa also is battling female genital mutilation, and she runs a jail for men who beat their wives.
An extremist Muslim militia with 750 soldiers attacked the hospital two years ago, saying that it was against religion for a woman to run anything substantial. Hawa stood up to the attackers and — because ordinary Somalis sided with her — she was able to force the militia to back down. Then she made the militia write her an apology!
Yet Hawa’s hospital and school are struggling financially. Vital Voices, a Washington organization supporting women’s rights, has set up a tax-deductible mechanism to keep Hawa’s work going.
Polaris Project (polarisproject.org) is a leader in the fight against human trafficking in the United States. One of its most important projects is a nationwide hot line, with interpreters on standby for 176 languages, for anyone who sees people who may be trafficked. It’s (888) 373-7888 . This year alone, Polaris says, it has helped more than 3,200 victims get services through the hot line.
Polaris, based in Washington, has also been a powerful advocate for tougher laws around the country — those that target pimps rather than just the girls who are their victims. Polaris says that this year alone it has helped 17 states pass laws on human trafficking. And Polaris has supported nearly 500 trafficking survivors as they start new lives.
Fair Girls (fairgirls.org) is also based in Washington and fights sex trafficking at home and abroad. Its founder, Andrea Powell, braves dangerous streets and disgusting Web sites for hours in search of girls enslaved in the sex trade, and she is fearless about confronting pimps and prying girls from their grasp.
Earlier this year, I wrote about one of the trafficking survivors Fair Girls has helped: Alissa, the street name of a Boston girl whose cheek is scarred where a pimp gouged her with a potato peeler as a warning not to run away. Alissa ultimately testified against her pimps and sent them to prison. Now, with Powell’s mentoring, she is helping other girls escape that life as well.
Fair Girls also trains trafficking survivors to make jewelry, which makes nice gifts and is available on the group’s Web site.