Obama revives anti-slavery law to target Thai seafood


Seafood produced by slaves in Thailand will be among goods banned from sale in the US as Barack Obama revives laws targeting industries that use forced and child labor, the Guardian reports:

Federal officials are preparing to enforce an 86-year-old ban on importing goods made by children or slaves under new provisions of a law signed by the president. …Reporting by the Guardian, Associated Press, New York Times and others has continued to highlight inhumane working conditions in the Thai seafood sector and the US legal loophole that allowed continued imports.

“If the US government works to really keep out goods made with forced labor, this change will have a profound ripple effect on supply chains worldwide,” said David Abramowitz, who advocated for the change as vice-president for Humanity United.

To start an investigation, customs needs to receive a petition from anyone – a business, an agency, even a non-citizen – showing “reasonably but not conclusively” that imports were made at least in part with forced labor.

Neha Misra of the Solidarity Center,* another nonprofit that worked for the legal change, said petitions remained hard to file and proving a case was complicated but she was still encouraged. “Before US law said that we would tolerate forced labor if we really wanted a product for domestic consumption. Now we are saying that we will not tolerate forced labor for any reason. This is a major step forward.”

*A core institute of the National Endowment for Democracy.

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