Thursday, November 3, 2011

The unseen casualties of a decade of war, continued

The U.S. is inadvertently financing human trafficking and worker abuse because of the federal government’s poor oversight of contractors operating in war zones, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) told a congressional panel today.

Federal contracting regulations rely on self-policing and reporting to contracting officers, which has not been proven to be an effective way to monitor trafficking, POGO Director of Investigations Nick Schwellenbach told a subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Although the Department of Defense has made some improvements in combatting trafficking, there is still a notable lack of criminal enforcement. In the few investigations that have been conducted into alleged contractor involvement in human trafficking in war zones, some of the people making allegations were never even interviewed, Schwellenbach told the Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and Procurement Reform.

“The lack of oversight of federal contractors has led to taxpayer dollars funding these terrible crimes,” Schwellenbach said. “The U.S. has a moral and legal obligation to do everything it can to protect its contracted workforce in war zones.”

If you haven't read Sarah Stillman's June article in the New Yorker about human trafficking in U.S. war zones, you should. It's a heartbreaker.

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