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Cable 758: KBR Subcontractor Accused of Trafficking in Persons in Iraq

Cable 758: KBR Subcontractor Accused of Trafficking in Persons in Iraq

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Published by Andres
This is a 2008 US embassy report on allegations that a subcontractor hired to procure laborers for US military contractor Kellog Brown and Root had violated numerous trafficking in persons laws while employed in Iraq.
This is a 2008 US embassy report on allegations that a subcontractor hired to procure laborers for US military contractor Kellog Brown and Root had violated numerous trafficking in persons laws while employed in Iraq.

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Published by: Andres on Nov 28, 2011
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11/28/2011

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P 071530Z JAN 09FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDADTO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1132UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 000035SUBJECT: KBR SUBCONTRACTOR SUSPECTED OF TIP VIOLATIONS
¶1. (SBU) Summary: During an early Decemberinspection visit, Emboffs confirmed media reportsof some 1,000 third country nationals (TCN) livingin transit housing facilities, "man camps," nearthe Baghdad airport while waiting for employmentwith MNF-I contractors. Many of the TCNs have beenliving for several months in overcrowded conditionswith no pay. Outside one camp, about 30 Nepalisabandoned by the labor broker who brought them toIraq live in hovels made of plastic sheeting andcardboard. Najlaa Catering Company, asubcontractor of MNF-I contractor Kellogg, Brownand Root (KBR), procures such workers throughindependent labor brokers who operate in theworkers' home countries. KBR has inspected thecamps and taken action to prevent Najlaa and othersub-contractors from using them. KBR has fullycooperated with the Defense Contract ManagementAgency (DCMA) and MNF-I Criminal Law Division toinvestigate possible trafficking in persons (TIP)and human rights violations, improve the men'sliving conditions, ensure they are financiallycompensated, and either employed or repatriated. Ofthe 1,000 TCNs stranded in the man camps 325 have
 
been hired by KBR and approximately 500 were paidtwo months' salary and repatriated; the restcontinue to seek employment. The InternationalOrganization for Migration (IOM) is in the processof resettling most of the 30 Nepalis (several havedecided to stay and continue to look for work).Embassy is seeking ways to ensure USG contractorand subcontractor compliance with appropriatelabor, health, and safety standards. End summary.
---------------------------Investigating the Man Camps---------------------------
¶2. (SBU) On December 10, RefCoord, Poloff, UNAMISenior Human Rights Advisor, and IOM Baghdadrepresentative toured three man camps near BaghdadInternational Airport (BIAP). The DCMA overseessome U.S. military contracts, including KBR's, toensure that they comply with U.S. laws. It has ledefforts to obtain financial compensation (backsalary) for the stranded workers, improve theirliving conditions, initiate a criminalinvestigation into possible TIP violations, andfacilitate repatriation for those who want it.According to the DCMA, the USG does not havejurisdiction over these TCNs, as the men are notbeing held on USG property, nor do they have USGcontracts. They are, however, in U.S. battlespace, which prompted MNF-I to ask DCMA toinvestigate the TIP (bondage and imposition of debtrepayment) and human rights violations charges.¶3. (SBU) Given the USG zero-tolerance policy
 
toward trafficking in persons, MNF-I and EmbassyLegal are investigating any suspicions oftrafficking and are taking corrective andpreventive measures. They are also exploringvarious avenues, including through contract clausesand land-use agreements, to ensure USG contractorand subcontractor compliance with appropriatelabor, health, and safety standards. With regardto legal action to remedy the situation, KBR hasissued cease and desist orders to Najlaa and all ofits subcontractors not to use the camps. KBR alsomet with Najlaa management on December 4 to discussthe issuance of a cure notice to remedy anycontract breaches.¶4. (U) Prior to visiting the three man camps,the DCMA officer in charge briefed on thebackground, current status and plans to help theTCNs stranded at the BIAP man camps. Such TCNworkers are recruited in their home countries bybrokers, usually compatriots, who for a fee rangingfrom $2,500 to $5,000 agree to get them jobs withcompanies which service the Coalition Forces. Thebrokers then fly the job seekers to Iraq in orderto have the manpower available when a contractor(in this case, KBR food service sub-contractorNajlaa) wins a contract. UNAMI Senior Human RightsOfficer noted that UNAMI would issue a pressstatement expressing its support for upholdinginternational labor standards and holding thoseresponsible for the situation accountable. (Note:UNAMI SRSG de Mistura issued a statement to thateffect on December 11. De Mistura reiterated hisconcern for the TCNs at BIAP in a December 18statement on the occasion of International MigrantsDay. End note.)

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