Tuesday, September 15, 2009
In 2005 and 2008, Congress included in its approval of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act a provision directing the U.S. Secretary of Labor and the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) to compile “a list of goods that ILAB has reason to believe were produced using forced labor or child labor” in order to provide consumers and firms with this type of information. On September 10, 2009, the Department of Labor complied for the first time with this requirement. The DOL report listing those goods may be found here. The ILAB reviewed exploitive working conditions in 77 countries based on a preliminary screening indicating higher levels of goods produced by forced or child labor. The ILAB ultimately identified 122 goods produced with forced or child labor in 58 countries. Most goods on the list were produced by child labor rather than forced labor. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that there are 218 million children working right now, of which 126 million engage in hazardous forms of work and an additional untold number are trapped in illegal industries such as the sex trade. ILO also estimates that there are 12.3 million persons engaged in forced labor. The industry sector with the most violations was agriculture, followed by manufacturing and mining. The purpose of the list is to raise awareness of these practices and to increase efforts to end the use of child or forced labor. ILAB also hopes that consumers, businesses and governments who do not wish to support such practices will use this list as a tool when making purchases.