In September 2012, President Obama announced at the Clinton Global Initiative a new Executive Order titled, “Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking in Persons in Federal Contracts” which we would like to highlight:
The United States government is the largest single purchaser of goods and services in the world, and as such it bears responsibility to ensure that taxpayer dollars do not contribute to trafficking in persons. Despite the U.S. government’s zero-tolerance policy enshrined in our Trafficking Victims Protection Act and Federal Acquisition Regulation, which mandate anti-trafficking clauses in all government contracts, allegations of human trafficking continue to surface.
The new Executive Order strengthens our zero-tolerance policy by expressly prohibiting all federal contractors, subcontractors, and their employees from engaging in trafficking-related activities, such as misleading or fraudulent recruitment practices; charging employees’ recruitment fees; and destroying or confiscating an employee’s identity documents.
It also requires compliance measures for large overseas contracts and subcontracts. These federal contractors and subcontractors must maintain compliance plans to include, for example, an employee awareness program, a process for employees to safely report human trafficking violations, and recruitment and housing plans. These contractors and subcontractors must also certify that neither they nor any of their contractors have engaged in trafficking-related activities.
To enhance compliance on domestic contracts, government agencies are now required to establish a process to identify industries and sectors that have a history of trafficking-related or forced labor activities. Government agencies will need to adopt appropriate safeguards, guidance and compliance assistance for contractors to prevent human trafficking.
The Executive Order demonstrates the Administration’s commitment to protecting vulnerable individuals as government contractors and subcontractors perform vital services and manufacture goods procured by the United States.
The United States looks forward to working with other participating States to develop similar initiatives to their government contracting. Such transparency efforts targeted at exploitation in the supply chains for both the public and private sector could also emerge as an important component of an OSCE Action Plan Addendum.