8 November 2012 | Paul Snell
You would hope it would not take a law to prevent contractors from involvement in human trafficking.
Nevertheless, at the end of September, President Barack Obama signed executive order 13627, called Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking in Persons in Federal Contracts. It is one of a number of US government initiatives to put a stop to modern-day slavery, which it says affects 20 million people.
“American tax dollars must never, ever be used to support the trafficking of human beings. We will have zero tolerance,” said the president in a speech accompanying the announcement.
The order says: “By providing our government workforce with additional tools and training to apply and enforce existing policy, and by providing additional clarity to government contractors and subcontractors on the steps necessary to fully comply with that policy, this order will help to protect vulnerable individuals.”
The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council has 180 days from the signing of the order to implement the rules.
These include prohibiting suppliers and contractors from using misleading and fraudulent recruitment practices regarding terms and conditions, charging recruitment fees to employees and destroying or confiscating identity documents. It requires vendors to provide access for contracting authorities to conduct audits and investigations into compliance with laws against trafficking. Those suppliers with contracts worth more than $500,000 (£309,385) outside the US will have to provide a ‘compliance plan’ detailing how they make employees aware of policies and their procedures in place for subcontractors.
But the order has been criticised by some politicians who have been working on cross-party legislative proposals to tackle trafficking. “One more executive order will not solve the problem. We have a loophole in our law that must be closed and we have serious enforcement issues of existing law,” said Republican congressman James Lankford.