Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

America’s Shame: The U.S. Government’s Human Trafficking Dilemma

Project on Government Oversight  May 7, 2012

For Vinnie Tuivaga, the offer was the answer to a prayer: A job in a luxury hotel in Dubai–the so-called Las Vegas of the Persian Gulf–making five times what she was earning as a hair stylist in her native Fiji.

She jumped at the chance, even if it meant paying an upfront commission to the recruiter.

You probably know how this story is going to end. There was no high-paying job, luxury location or easy work.

Tuivaga and other Fijians ended up in Iraq where they lived in shipping containers and existed in what amounted to indentured servitude.

Journalist Sarah Stillman told Tuivaga’s story and that of tens of thousands of other foreign workers in acute detail almost a year ago in her New Yorker piece, “The Invisible Army.”

In some cases, Stillman found more severe abuses and more squalid living conditions than what Tuivaga and her fellow Fijians experienced.

But like Tuivaga, thousands of foreign nationals in the U.S. government’s invisible army ended up in Iraq and Afghanistan war zones because they fell victim to human traffickers.

Let that sink in.

This human trafficking pipeline wasn’t benefitting some shadowy war lord or oppressive regime. No, these are workers who were feeding, cleaning up after, and providing logistical support for U.S. troops—the standard-bearers of the free and democratic world.

In its final report to Congress last year, the Commission on Wartime Contracting said it had uncovered evidence of human trafficking in Iraq and Afghanistan by labor brokers and subcontractors. Commissioner Dov Zakheim later told a Senate panel that the Commission had only scratched the surface of the problem. He called it the “tip of the iceberg.”

In essence, despite a 2002 presidential directive that set a “zero tolerance” on human trafficking, modern-day slavers have been operating with impunity under the aegis of the U.S. government.

Nick Schwellenbach, who until last month was the director of investigations at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), and author David Isenberg also wrote about the conditions some of these foreign workers endured in Iraq.

Nick and David uncovered documents that showed how one U.S. contractor—in this case KBR—was well aware that one of its subcontractors, Najlaa International Catering Services, was involved in trafficking abuses.

Please see the original and read more here

May 7, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contingency Contracting, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Follow the Money, Halliburton, Human Trafficking, Iraq, KBR, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Smuggled Contract Laborers in Afghanistan: The Tip of the Iceberg

See Also at MsSparky

by Neil Gordon Project on Government Oversight

The Washington Examiner obtained an investigative report that uncovered instances of foreign workers without proper security clearances or identification being smuggled onto U.S. and NATO bases in Afghanistan. According to an April 2010 report by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan, two federal contractors, Stallion Construction and Engineering and DynCorp International, violated security procedures at Kandahar Airfield by escorting undocumented foreign laborers onto the base.

Illegal labor practices ranging from contract worker smuggling to human trafficking persist in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands of nationals from impoverished countries are lured by the promise of good jobs, but sometimes end up victims of scams that leave them virtual slaves with no way to return home or seek legal recourse. Or, as ISAF documented, they may gain unauthorized access to sensitive war zone locations. In Afghanistan, according to the Examiner’s description of the ISAF report, prospective workers fly into the country, where they are met by “unscrupulous subcontractors” who help them bypass security measures to enter U.S. and NATO bases and work for companies like Stallion and DynCorp. According to the Examiner, the report identified only a small number of what could be hundreds of undocumented employees at Kandahar Airfield, where more than 20,000 U.S. and NATO personnel are stationed.

“This report is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg,” an unnamed U.S. official told the Examiner. “The military police report is only one example of what has been going on for some time at the major bases across the country. This is a serious security issue and human rights issue as well.”

POGO hasn’t seen the ISAF report, but we obtained this DynCorp security incident report [Note: POGO redacted all personally identifiable information] from March 2010 describing an incident that sounds very similar to the activity ISAF investigated. DynCorp discovered that four Filipino citizens gained access to Kandahar Airfield through questionable circumstances with the help of a bus driver “escort” who worked for the company.

According to the Examiner, the ISAF report recommended that Stallion be suspended from contracting but said nothing about sanctioning DynCorp. DynCorp, one of the three primary LOGCAP IV contractors in Afghanistan (along with Fluor and KBR), is no stranger to human trafficking issues. Ten years ago, DynCorp was embroiled in international controversy over allegations that its employees in the Balkans participated in a massive human trafficking and prostitution operation. A movie based on those allegations debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival last year.

On Tuesday, the State Department held a briefing on human trafficking. Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca spoke about the government’s new interagency initiatives to combat trafficking in persons. Neither the ISAF report nor anything about contract worker smuggling or human trafficking in Iraq and Afghanistan was mentioned.

Last month, the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General released a report urging DoD contracting officials to do more to combat human trafficking, such as ensuring that contracts contain the required anti-trafficking provisions. This report, the second DoD IG report on trafficking required by law, examined a sample of DoD construction and service contracts valued at $5 million or more awarded in fiscal years 2009 and 2010 for work in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Qatar, and Bahrain. The report found that only about half of the contracts contained the required Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Combating Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) clause. The report warns that such widespread noncompliance with this requirement means many contractors may be unaware of the government’s “zero tolerance” policy with regard to human trafficking, and contracting officers are unable to apply remedies in the case of violations.  Please read the original here

February 5, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, DynCorp, Iraq, NATO, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

DFA Moves to Save Jobs in Afghanistan

By MADEL R. SABATER  MB.com Phillipines
October 2, 2010, 1:55pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has recommended that President Aquino convene a high-level committee to address a recent directive issued by a United States (US) government agency that would affect Filipinos working for US interests in Afghanistan.

The DFA was referring to the memorandum issued by Centcom on the termination of certain foreign workers in Afghanistan, including overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

In its recommendation to President Aquino, the DFA proposed that the committee be headed by the Executive Secretary with the secretaries of the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Labor and Employment as members.

The committee will be mandated to assess the security situation in Afghanistan, the implications of the Centcom order, and make recommendations to ensure the safety and welfare of Filipino workers currently employed by the US government or its sub-contractors in Afghanistan.

A Centcom memorandum issued on September 17, 2010 ordered the termination of employment of all foreign workers whose domestic laws prohibit them from traveling to, or working in, Afghanistan.

The Philippines has an existing travel and deployment ban to Afghanistan since 2005.

However, there are an estimated 2,500 to 4,000 Filipinos working in US military facilities in Afghanistan, mostly on Third Country National (TCN) basis.

TCN refers to workers that are of separate nationality to both the contracting government or private contractor or the host country or area of operations

October 3, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors | , , , , , , | 6 Comments