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Halliburton, other lobbyists stall Pentagon ban on human trafficking

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Three years after a 2002 Presidential Directive demanding an end to trafficking in humans for forced labor and prostitution by U.S. contractors, the Pentagon is still yet to actually bar the practice, The Chicago Tribune reports. Congress approved a similar ban one year later, which was reauthorized by the Senate just last week.

The President and Congress have demanded that government agencies include anti-trafficking provisions (covering forced labor and prostitution) in all overseas company contracts. It also extended the ban to subcontractors.

According to the Tribune, the concerns of five lobbying groups - including representatives of Halliburton subsidiary KBR and DynCorp - are stalling Pentagon action. These companies are specifically targeting provisions requiring companies to monitor their overseas contractors for violations. Both KBR and DynCorp have been linked to human trafficking cases in the past.

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The original Bush order came on the heels of revelations that DynCorp employees had purchased women and girls as sex slaves during the 1990s U.S. military presence in Bosnia. The company responded by firing eight employees over the incidents, as well as involvement in illegal arms sales.

An excerpt from the Tribune piece details Halliburton's role:

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In a two-part series published in October, the Tribune detailed how Middle Eastern firms working under American subcontracts in Iraq, and a chain of human brokers beneath them, engaged in the kind of abuses condemned elsewhere by the U.S. government as human trafficking. KBR, the Halliburton subsidiary, relies on more than 200 subcontractors to carry out a multibillion-dollar U.S. Army contract for privatization of military support operations in the war zone.

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The Tribune retraced the journey of 12 Nepali men recruited from poor villages in one of the most remote and impoverished corners of the world and documented a trail of deceit, fraud and negligence stretching into Iraq. The men were kidnapped from an unprotected caravan and executed en route to jobs at an American military base in 2004.

At the time, Halliburton said it was not responsible for the recruitment or hiring practices of its subcontractors, and the U.S. Army, which oversees the privatization contract, said questions about alleged misconduct "by subcontractor firms should be addressed to those firms, as these are not Army issues."

Once implemented, the new policy could dramatically change responsibilities for KBR and the Army.

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To read the full registration-restricted Tribune story, click here.

Originally published on Tuesday December 27, 2005



 


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