Cassandra Clifford with the World Affairs Blog Network has an important call to action for people who are looking to take a stand against modern-day slavery and trafficking in their every day lives. Everything that we consume comes from somewhere, and opting for products that are fair-trade and slavery-free goes a long way in relaying the message to companies that we don’t want to support slavery.
This can be daunting–how can you, going about your own life, take time to ask and research where everything comes from? Imagine there was a list that let you know the products that were made using slave labor, wouldn’t that be easier? It would. The funny thing is: there is a list. It just hasn’t been released.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) was revised by Congress in 2005, at which time it was mandated that the Department of Labor (DOL) establish a list of products which where made by various forms of human trafficking/modern slavery, including child labor.
However when the TVPRA was reauthorized again in 2008, the list has still to find its way into any consumers hands, despite increasing consumer and political awareness and activism. The need to release this crucial list was brought back into the public spotlight with the efforts of Ambassador Mark P. Lagon, who is the Executive Director of Polaris Project, and previous Ambassador-at-Large and Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP), and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State.Ambassador Lagon recently published an article for Change.org, Where’s the List of Slave-Made Goods the Department of Labor Promised?
The Department of Labor, under the leadership of Secretary Elaine Chao until last January, said the requirement was an unfunded mandate – as they didn’t have enough people to put on the task absent any extra funding from Congress.
Congress unwisely put no deadline on the mandate in the 2005 legislation, then gave the Department a luxurious one year to produce it with the enactment of the latest December 2008 revision of the landmark 2000 anti-slavery act.
But the list exists. While I was still the anti-trafficking ambassador, a public hearing had been held for information and a draft list was fashioned.
So what can be done to see that this list finally makes it’s way into our hands as consumers, and concerned citizens? E-mail the new Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis to release the list and correct the errors of the past four years, demand that the American consumer is both educated and empowered, that we have a right and choice to be purchase goods which are no longer contaminated by child and slave labor, that we want a true “free” marketplace.
You can sign the petition here.