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One Step Closer: New York Times Praises Executive Order on Human Trafficking

Amshula Jayaram,
ACLU Washington Legislative Office
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October 3, 2012

The New York Times issued an editorial Tuesday praising President Obama’s Executive Order to end human trafficking in government contracts. The Times viewed the order as an important step towards eliminating this shameful practice. The Times also called for Congress to pass the End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act, which would provide the legislative muscle to enforce and make permanent the measures contained in the Executive Order to eliminate human trafficking from government contracting processes.

As the Times stated, passage of the bill “would strengthen the administration’s executive initiative” by “embedding” necessary safeguards into law. Under the order, contractors and subcontractors are prohibited from charging recruitment fees, a practice which saddles employees with debt and forces them to work often under intolerable conditions. The order also mandates the establishment of training and compliance mechanisms for government contract officers that will help them identify trafficking when it occurs, take measures to prevent it and hold perpetrators accountable.

The End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act would provide a powerful complement to these measures by providing not only prevention and oversight, but critical enforcement mechanisms – including criminal sanctions – to send a clear message that human traffickers will be brought to justice. The act has strong bipartisan support in the Senate and has already passed the House as part of a larger defense authorization bill. Congress must now ensure that the provision is adopted before the end of the current session.

The task of ending this modern-day form of slavery will not be easy, nor will it be quick. This is why legislation is essential for ensuring that the standards, protections and penalties established in the Executive Order are made permanent. As the measure’s sponsor, Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-FL) stated in a recent press release: “[Congress] should continue to work toward the passage of S.2234 which would make federal efforts to end this practice law instead of an executive order which can be rescinded at any time.” Click here to urge your senator to become a co-sponsor of this important piece of legislation today.

Last Tuesday, President Obama declared, “We’re making it clear that American tax dollars must never be used to support the trafficking of human beings.”

Passage of the End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act will bring us one step closer to making this a reality.

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