The appalling history and status quo of forced labor in the United States is so serious and long-standing that its spillover effect has impacted other countries, said a report released on Tuesday entitled "The United States' Practice of Forced Labor at Home and Abroad: Truth and Facts."
Multiple data and media reports have shown that the United States is an underperformer in the ratification and implementation of international labor conventions, which has caused serious transnational human trafficking and human rights violations in other countries, the report said.
Citing data from the U.S. Department of State, the report said that up to 100,000 people are trafficked to the United States annually and fall victim to forced labor. In the past five years, cases of forced labor and human trafficking were reported in all the 50 U.S. states and Washington D.C.
Tighter U.S. immigration policies, combined with weak supervision at home, have exacerbated human smuggling and labor trafficking targeting immigrants, the report cited the 2021 Report on Human Rights Violations in the United States as saying.
Take an indictment released in 2021 by the U.S. Department of Justice. Dozens of workers from Mexico and Central American countries were smuggled to Georgia, where they were illegally imprisoned and forced to work under threat of guns and violence, with scandals involving deaths and sexual assaults.
Besides immigrants from U.S. neighboring countries, victims of labor trafficking also include Indian workers lured into the United States and workers of an American company's factory in Malaysia. They have been typically treated with harsh working conditions, cruel management, confiscation of personal documents and restrictions on their freedom.
Even children have fallen victim to forced labor by U.S. chocolate giants including Mars and Hershey, and coffee companies like Starbucks.
Media reports revealed that the number of affected children in West Africa and Guatemala working for the U.S. companies was more than two million, who earn less than 1 U.S. dollar a day and work over 40 hours a week.
As a matter of fact, the United States has been repeatedly criticized over the problem of forced labor not only by the international watchdog, the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR), but also the UN special rapporteur in trafficking in persons.
Over the past decade, the CEACR has been urging the U.S. government to reverse its inappropriate practices and earnestly fulfill its obligations agreed upon in international documents.
In 2016, then UN Special Rapporteur in Trafficking in Persons Maria Grazia Giammarinaro also urged the country to engage in a more effective effort to detect trafficking for forced labor and labor exploitation.