Friday, December 2, 2022
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Friday, July 11, 2014
State Department documents rise in human trafficking
By Malia Zimmerman @ 9:36 PM :: 6078 Views :: Agriculture, Labor, Law Enforcement

State Department documents rise in human trafficking

DEPLORABLE CONDITIONS: A Laotian farm worker trafficked to Hawaii shows investigators the tiny chicken coup he was forced to live in without electricity or a bed on an Oahu farm

by Malia Zimmerman, Watchdog.org, July 11, 2014 

HONOLULU — Americans celebrated independence, liberty and freedom on Fourth of July, but a new report from the U.S. State Department shows there are plenty of people in this country who aren’t free.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing Tuesday on how forced labor and modern-day slavery is being combated, and reviewed an earlier report that documented human trafficking around the world.

Some 21 million victims worldwide are trafficked for both sex and labor, the report said. Throughout America, victims are forced to work in virtually every economic sector.

While human trafficking is highly profitable for traffickers, reaping an estimated $150 billion annually, taxpayers and legitimate businesses suffer as a result.

Retired Gen. Charles Krulak, who is working with Human Rights First to develop an effective strategy to combat human trafficking, noted in a recent editorial that human trafficking creates an unfair advantage for those enterprises that use slave labor because their costs and prices are lower. Traffickers also don’t pay taxes, he said, but create an enormous need for public spending on security, border control, law enforcement and victim rehabilitation.

The U.S. Department of Justice prosecuted just 161 human trafficking cases in 2013 and imprisoned 174 human traffickers, the report said.

Oahu farms harboring Asian trafficking victims

BUSTED: The U.S. Labor Department said living and working conditions at Fat Law are unsafe. The company was fined $450,000 in April.

The International Labor Organization says agricultural workers are among the most vulnerable for human trafficking.

Watchdog.org’s award-winning investigation into labor trafficking on several of Oahu’s Asian vegetable farms over the last four years has documented this is the case in Hawaii.

Some 1,000 workers from Laos were trafficked to Oahu via a B-2 visitor visa scam over the last decade, forced to work off their debt to traffickers — as much as $25,000 each, advocates said.

The U.S. Department of Labor has investigated some of the cases Watchdog.org uncovered, including Fat Law Farm, a 425-acre spread in Leeward Oahu, which must now pay $428,800 in back wages and liquidated damages to workers and another $31,200 in civil penalties because of “deplorable housing, safety and health conditions for workers.”

Investigators noted in a June federal filing they also found what they called “elements of human trafficking” and referred the case to the U.S. Department of Justice for further investigation.

Another issue that concerns advocates is workers being forced to mix and spray pesticides without training or protective gear and without the ability to read English instruction labels.

FAT LAW FARM: Hawaii’s largest exporter of basil to the mainland United States and Canada.

Fat Law was cited in 2012 for illegal pesticide use on its basil crops. The farm deems itself the “King of Basil” in Hawaii, but was ordered by the state Department of Health to destroy all 29 acres of its basil crop because its workers used an unapproved pesticide.

Another farm labor case was settled in June when the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission obtained a multimillion dollar settlement for 500 laborers brought to Hawaii from Thailand over four years beginning in 2003 by the Beverly Hills-based farm labor contractor, Global Horizons, Inc.

The EEOC filed a class action national origin and race discrimination lawsuit in 2011 against Global and six farms. Five of the six farms will pay a combined $3.6 million.

U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi issued an order finding the company liable for “harassing, discriminating, and retaliating against hundreds of Thai workers in the U.S., in violation of federal anti-discrimination laws.”

Kobayashi also detailed the “exploitation, physical abuse, and barbaric security measures” at the Maui Pineapple Company plantation and housing facilities where Thai workers lived.

Commercial fishing industry rife with human trafficking

The State Department report said forced labor on inland, coastal and deep sea fishing vessels is growing.

Bryant Carvahlo, a former federal investigator with the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said the Hawaii commercial fishing industry is rife with the exploitation of illegal aliens.

These aliens are smuggled into Hawaii for around $10,000 a person, and then forced to live in unsanitary conditions on fishing vessels docked at Honolulu piers where they are paid as little as $300 a month for full-time commercial fishing work, he said.

Carvalho, concerned about human rights violations and illegal labor’s impact on legitimate fishing businesses, filed complaints with a number of government agencies. He also called on the Department of Land and Natural Resources to stop selling commercial fishing licenses in bulk to private agents who then provide the licenses to illegal alien crew members.

DLNR director William Aila refused to comment on the practice and instructed his spokesperson to tell Watchdog.org the agency will not participate in this story.

As a result of Carvahlo’s complaint, the state attorney general’s office opened an investigation into both DLNR’s fishing license distribution practices and a Department of Transportation harbor division policy that has allowed illegal aliens to live on boats at the piers.

Watchdog.org’s own investigation revealed there is little oversight of commercial fishermen and their vessels, including no minimum wage requirement and no agency regularly ensuring sanitary and safe living conditions or verifying workers are not trafficking victims.

While the U.S. Coast Guard partners with the Department of Homeland Security Investigations to do periodic inspections, their oversight is limited, Carvahlo said.

Children targeted by sex traffickers

TARGETS: Young girls are trafficked as sex workers in Hawaii

The State Department reports America’s children are tricked, kidnapped and coerced into working in the sex trade.

Kathryn Xian, spokeswoman for the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, knows all too well that also happens in Hawaii. Girls as young as 11-years-old are recruited from schools, beaches and malls through a sophisticated network of pimps and traffickers.

Once trapped by traffickers, victims are beaten, raped and forced to work as prostitutes under the threat their families will be killed if they try to run away, she said.

There are some 100,000 ads for Hawaii-based prostitution services posted online each year, Xian said, and many providing these services are Hawaii children.

The problem became so serious in the islands, Shared Hope International awarded Hawaii an “F” in its December 2012 national report on child sex trafficking laws. Since then, Xian’s group and others have worked diligently to raise that grade, passing a number of laws they believe will help address the multifaceted problem.

Krulak said the release of the trafficking report should serve as a “wake up call” and “should rally a range of sectors in the United States to join forces to change the business proposition for traffickers by making modern day slavery both more costly and more risky.”

---30---

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Back da Blue Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

ChinaTownWatch.com

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Life Alliance

Hawaii March for Life 

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

HIEC.Coop

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT