Three years ago, President Bush declared that he had “zero tolerance” for trafficking in humans by the government’s overseas contractors, and two years ago Congress mandated a similar policy. Yet the Defense Department has yet to adopt a policy to bar human trafficking, reports the Chicago Tribune.
A proposal prohibiting defense contractor involvement in human trafficking for forced prostitution and labor was drafted by the Pentagon last summer, but five defense lobbying groups oppose key provisions and a final policy still appears to be months away, according to those involved and Defense Department records. The lobbying groups opposing the plan say they’re in favor of the idea in principle, but said they believe that implementing key portions of it overseas is unrealistic. Lining up on the opposite side of the defense industry are some human-trafficking experts who say significant aspects of the Pentagon’s proposed policy might actually do more harm than good unless they’re changed. These experts have told the Pentagon that the policy would merely formalize practices that have allowed contractors working overseas to escape punishment for involvement in trafficking, the records show.