Pentagon has yet to craft a policy to bar human trafficking

| Tue Dec. 27, 2005 12:33 PM EST

It has been three years since George W. Bush announced his "zero tolerance" of human trafficking by overseas contractors, and two years since Congress backed zero tolerance up with law. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act authorized more than $2 million to combat human traffickiing, including women and girls forced into prostitution.

But the actual adoption of a plan to stop human trafficking is stuck in a mire of defense contractor lobbying tactics and disagreement over the Defense Department's intentions. Last summer, the Pentagon drafted a proposal prohibiting defense contractor involvement in human trafficking for forced labor and prostitution, but lobbying groups objected to it because, they say, key parts of it are unrealistic. At the same time, experts on human trafficking say that the Pentagon's proposed policy would only formalize practices that have made it possible for contractors working overseas to escape punishment for their involvement in human trafficking.

A new bill reauthorizing the nation's efforts against human trafficking was just passed, but only after the a measure that would have created a trafficking watchdog at the Pentagon was removed. Lobbying groups have also fought against a plan to have contractors police their overseas subcontractors with regard to trafficking. On the up side, though, the new law also deals with trafficking within U.S. borders, and holds non-defense federal employees accountable.

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