U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order Tuesday bolstering US efforts against human trafficking by ensuring that its embassies and military facilities abroad do not employ individuals who have been trafficked.
"In short, we're making clear that American tax dollars must never, ever be used to support the trafficking of human beings," he said. "We will have zero tolerance. We mean what we say. We will enforce it."
In a speech to the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, Obama made the case for stronger action to end trafficking that amounts to modern slavery.
"It is barbaric, and it is evil, and it has no place in a civilized world," he said.
The United States must also work to recognize trafficking within its borders, whether of migrant workers involved in farming or of sex workers.
Obama also vowed further training for law enforcement officers and others to recognize victims, called for the use of technology to identify and stop traffickers and said more programmes to help victims recover and rebuild their lives needed to be developed.
Under the executive order, emphasis would be placed on developing steps that need to be taken by foreign companies who help the United States fill vacancies at its military and diplomatic installations.
The American Civil Liberties Union praised the move for addressing problems with trafficking and forced labour in poor countries such as the Philippines and India. Often times, workers pay third parties exorbitant recruitment fees to get a job and are misled about where they will be sent - sometimes even into US facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"Today's executive order will help ensure that workers who provide valuable services to our troops and embassies are not trafficked or forced into indentured servitude on the taxpayer's dime," the group's attorney Steven Watt said in a statement. "The order brings the US government a step closer to realizing its often touted zero-tolerance policy on human trafficking."
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