President Barack Obama used his turn at the podium of the Clinton Global Initiative to announce a new executive order that expressly bans U.S. government contractors from engaging in human trafficking. The president called the practice "modern slavery" and said it was "barbaric, evil, and it has no place in the civilized world." The president made the point that the United States is the largest purchaser of goods and services on earth, and the executive order is meant to put that economic influence to work in combatting the practice. "With more than 20 million victims of human trafficking around the world...we've got a lot more to do," he said. You'll be able to get a full transcript and video of his remarks soon at the White House's live-streaming page, and there's a fact sheet outlining the president's overall plan to combat trafficking. But in the meantime, let's take a look at what's in this new executive order.
The order defines human trafficking according to the U.S. State Department's Trafficking Victims' Protection Act, which basically describes it as inducing or obtaining people to perform labor or sex through coercion, force, or fraud, "for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery." Under the new order, companies working for the U.S. government will have to comply with a series of basic conduct requirements. Those include prohibitions against using misleading ads about the nature, location, and payment of the work offered; charging employment fees; and destroying, confiscating, or otherwise denying access to identification documents. It also requires contractors to pay return transportation costs for employees traveling to take expatriate jobs, provide housing where appropriate, and to make themselves available to inspectors. And it prohibits contractors from engaging in "procurement of commercial sex acts, or the use of forced labor in the performance of the contract or subcontract." You can read the order in full over at the White House.