President Barack Obama signed a bill on Wednesday barring the import of goods produced by forced labor from entering the United States, throwing the weight of the U.S. market into the fight against global slavery.
Shipments derived from slavery, from fish to electronics and cocoa, will be kept out of the country under the new law that closes a legal loophole that allowed import of goods derived from forced labor if U.S. demand exceeded domestic production, officials said.
The measure closing the loophole from the Tariff Act of 1930 was included in a wider trade enforcement bill, which Obama signed into law at the White House in Washington.
“The mere deterrent effect of closing this loophole is a great step forward,” Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told reporters on a conference call. “We’re going to make sure that is heavily noted throughout the world.”
The new law could keep at bay billions of dollars worth of goods produced by forced labor, said Annick Febrey, senior associate at the advocacy group Human Rights First.
“It’s a really big deal,” she said. “While we as a country have said that we are against slavery, we’ve had this little-known rule in the Tariff Act.”
The International Labour Organization estimates that 20.9 million people are victims of forced labor globally.
The illegal industry is estimated to generate $150 billion in profits per year, the agency has said.
Implementation of earlier U.S. anti-slavery measures faltered due to a need to determine if demand exceeded domestic production, Febrey said.
Enforcement of the new law should benefit from data from the U.S. Department of Labor, which has been listing goods, classified by nation, that are likely made by forced labor, officials said.
Only a few countries have laws addressing forced labor goods, including Canada where prison-labor imports are illegal and Australia where financial benefits from forced labor are outlawed, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
(Reporting by Sebastien Malo, additional reporting by Ayesha Rascoe. Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst via the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change.)
Newly released emails show White House prepared to freeze Ukraine aid hours before Trump’s phone call
White House budget officials were preparing to freeze aid to Ukraine the night before President Donald Trump's infamous July 25 phone call to the country's new president, according to newly released emails.
The Office of Management and Budget handed over nearly 200 pages of records related to the president's actions toward Ukraine to the transparency group American Oversight, and one of the heavily redacted emails from July 24 shows OMB officials shared a “Ukraine Prep Memo” with Michael Duffey, reported CNN.
Trump impeachment trial: 4 stories from first day spell doom for Mitch McConnell
If the score was kept for the first day of the impeachment trial, it would show hefty losses for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
As Former Special Counsel for the Department of Defense, Ryan Goodman, pointed out, four major headlines perfectly reflect the cracks in the strangle-hold McConnell has had on his party.
First, McConnell was forced to change the impeachment hearing rules. After a huge uprising by Americans demanding to be able to watch the impeachment trial during normal human hours, senators told McConnell he'd lost the votes to hold proceedings after midnight.
‘Disease fanboy’: Internet slams NBC conservative for ‘rooting for pandemic’ to distract from Trump impeachment trial
Hugh Hewitt is once again under fire, this time for almost appearing to be glad a deadly SARS-related virus has been diagnosed in a patient in Washington state – saying additional diagnoses will take the focus away from the Senate's historic impeachment trial. Hewitt is a conservative Washington Post columnist, radio host, MSNBC and NBC contributor, and law professor who went from being a "Never-Trumper" to all-in for President Donald Trump.
"People care much more for their health than theater," said Hewitt via Twitter, referring to Trump's impeachment trial. The SARS-related virus, known as the Wuhan coronavirus, is named for an area of China where it was first found. It "has infected more than 300 people and killed six in an outbreak that has struck China, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and now the US," CNN reports.