Jamaica Gleaner

Who mon­i­tors hu­man-traf­fick­ing mon­i­tors?

- Orville Tay­lor Dr Orville Tay­lor, se­nior lec­turer in so­ci­ol­ogy at the UWI and a ra­dio talk-show host, is the 2013-14 win­ner of the Mor­ris Cargill Award for Opin­ion Jour­nal­ism. His just-pub­lished book, ‘Bro­ken Prom­ises, Hearts and Pock­ets’, is now availab Society · Discrimination · Politics · Elections · Human Rights · London · United States of America · United States Army · Marcus · Monroe · Americas · William Penn · William · Jamaica · Pennsylvania · U.S. State Department · Cuba · Cuba · Malaysia · United Nations · Republican Party (United States) · Republican · United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations · United States Senate · Washington · U.S. government · Barack Obama · Iran · Israel · Congress of the United States · Marcus Garvey · Harlem, Georgia · James Monroe · Bob Corker · Republican Congress

NO, NO, no! No one from Reuters news agency, based in Lon­don, con­tacted me re­gard­ing my ar­ti­cle on hu­man traf­fick­ing last week.

It is sim­ply that truth does have a way of get­ting out; what­ever might be the ver­sion of it one wishes to push. I make no apolo­gies here.

I’m a Ja­maican na­tion­al­ist and I want to see the up­lift of my coun­try. With very im­por­tant mem­bers of my fam­ily liv­ing in the USA and with our deeply in­ter­twined history, ge­og­ra­phy and economies, a strong and just Amer­ica ranks very close to my na­tion­al­ism.

Long be­fore rap mu­sic, long be­fore Mar­cus Gar­vey t ook Amer­ica by storm 100 years ago, be­fore Claude McKay led the Har­lem Re­nais­sance, and even be­fore Pres­i­dent James Monroe’s 1820s dec­la­ra­tion of his doc­trine re­gard­ing the Amer­i­cas be­ing Amer­ica’s, we were part of US history. Ja­maicans did sup­port the Amer­i­can Revo­lu­tion and Sa­muel Fran­cis’ name pops up. Wil­liam Penn Jr, whose fa­ther chased the Span­ish from Ja­maica, founded Penn­syl­va­nia, and a large per­cent­age of the blacks in the Caroli­nas were ei­ther sold from Ja­maica in the 1700s or were taken by their ‘mas­ters’ as they mi­grated af­ter 1807 to main­tain their eco­nomic ben­e­fits af­ter the slave trade was abol­ished.

For me, there must be zero tol­er­ance to hu­man-rights vi­o­la­tions, and among these are vi­o­lence, dis­crim­i­na­tion and, of course, mod­ern-day slav­ery, hu­man traf­fick­ing. There are many ways to lie and skew the truth; but only one ac­cu­rate ver­sion of it ex­ists. It doesn’t vary ac­cord­ing to race, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, na­tion­al­ity, po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­di­ence or eco­nomic in­ter­ests within or be­tween coun­tries.

There­fore, my in­dig­na­tion had to be ex­pressed when Ja­maica was un­fairly given a Tier 2 Watch rat­ing by the US Depart­ment of State, over our ef­forts to com­bat this can­cer on mod­ern civil­i­sa­tion. Don’t be mis­taken, there is work to be done here. But the public func­tionar­ies have been co­op­er­at­ing with in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal pres­sure and the aca­demics have been do­ing the re­search to in­ves­ti­gate the depth of the prob­lem and im­prove on the Gov­ern­ment’s laud­able ef­forts.

How­ever, when Cuba, a coun­try not known for open­ness, and Malaysia mys­te­ri­ously got ‘tick­ies’ while we got the ‘wrong bongs’, it caused all hairs on my scalp to rise. More painful is the fact that in March 2015, the UN’s spe­cial rap­por­teur on traf­fick­ing in per­sons, Maria Grazia Gi­ammari­naro, vis­ited the lat­ter and con­cluded, “[The] gov­ern­ment of Malaysia must in­crease its ef­forts in ad­dress­ing all forms of hu­man traf­fick­ing while also pro­tect­ing the rights of its vic­tims.” So, how come we got red marks while coun­tries that have done less got bet­ter grades?

WRONG IN­FOR­MA­TION

I do not know where the State Depart­ment got its in­for­ma­tion from for use in its re­port, but it was wrong. It was just as in­cor­rect as when it said, a month ago, “There were cred­i­ble re­ports ... that the gov­ern­ment mon­i­tored pri­vate online com­mu­ni­ca­tions with­out ap­pro­pri­ate le­gal au­thor­ity.”

Then, af­ter recog­nis­ing that there was no ev­i­dence to sup­port this se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tion, re­vised the state­ment by in­sert­ing the largest ‘no’ seen in a long time. Thus: “There were no cred­i­ble re­ports that the gov­ern­ment mon­i­tored pri­vate online com­mu­ni­ca­tions with­out ap­pro­pri­ate le­gal au­thor­ity.”

This in­equity is like be­ing sus­pended for burp­ing in class and say­ing “ex­cuse me”, while another class­mate, whose fa­ther is rich or pow­er­ful, de­lib­er­ately passed gas on the teacher who smiled it away and said, “Per­fume!” Such faux pas are not mi­nor, be­cause, had there not been ob­jec­tions to the re­port, it is likely that a chain of puni­tive ac­tion would have fol­lowed.

It is im­per­a­tive that when transna­tional crit­i­cisms, with a view to re­crim­i­nat­ing ac­tion, is un­der­taken, there is ac­cu­racy and in­de­pen­dence. Not tak­ing any cue from me, but find­ing him­self in the same lane, Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Bob Corker, chair­man of the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, has threat­ened a sub­poena in his de­mand that the State Depart­ment hand over all the doc­u­ments used to rank coun­tries in its an­nual Hu­man Traf­fick­ing Re­port.

I don’t know who Corker fought with, but some­body in Washington seemed t o have skewed and thus tam­pered with the orig­i­nal re­port. The State Depart­ment had set up an of­fice to “in­de­pen­dently grade coun­tries’ ef­forts to fight hu­man traf­fick­ing”.

But of course, that is in it­self non­sense, be­cause one can­not es­tab­lish an agency that is ac­count­able to one­self, which also in­ves­ti­gates the par­ent en­tity. More­over, this very same State Depart­ment can then form its own opin­ions and act as an in­ter­na­tional po­lice­man and then also ap­ply in­ter­na­tional judg­ments.

OB­VI­OUS FLAW

The flaw in such an ar­range­ment is ob­vi­ous. Who in­de­pen­dently in­ves­ti­gates the USA? Any puni­tive ac­tion by this method­ol­ogy is ex­tra­ju­di­cial and in­con­sis­tent with the rules of nat­u­ral jus­tice. What re­ally is needed is not a Depart­ment of State agency, be­cause no mat­ter how pro­fes­sional and in­de­pen­dent-minded the func­tionar­ies and tech­nocrats are, they ul­ti­mately are un­der the guid­ance and dic­tate of politi­cians.

Thus, not sur­pris­ingly, as I sug­gested last week, Reuters re­vealed that se­nior US gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials forced the ex­perts to re­write the script. The UN is the best agency for mon­i­tor­ing in­ter­na­tional le­gal stan­dards; not the US, which has it­self fallen short on var­i­ous is­sues when ex­am­ined by the UN and other mul­ti­lat­eral agen­cies. Note, for ex­am­ple, the re­cent his­toric nu­clear arms agree­ment that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama has hero­ically forged with Iran. Among all rel­e­vant states, only Is­rael, whose prime min­is­ter, with com­plic­ity by a hos­tile and dis­re­spect­ful Repub­li­can Congress, in­sulted ‘our’ pres­i­dent in his own ‘house’, has op­posed the treaty.

For the record, el­e­ments in Congress op­posed it as well, hours af­ter its be­ing reached, with­out even read­ing the con­tents. And for the record, the UN does have an Of­fice on Drugs and Crime that deals with hu­man traf­fick­ing and mi­grant smug­gling.

The global strug­gle for uni­ver­sal hu­man rights is too im­por­tant to leave in the hands of a few politi­cians in any sin­gle coun­try. Let us stand with the US in ‘writ­ing’ the wrongs in or­der to right them.

 ?? FILE ?? In this Septem­ber 9, 2006 pho­to­graph, a stu­dent at Benin Univer­sity in Nige­ria walks past a bill­board en­cour­ag­ing young women to fight against pros­ti­tu­tion and hu­man traf­fick­ing.
FILE In this Septem­ber 9, 2006 pho­to­graph, a stu­dent at Benin Univer­sity in Nige­ria walks past a bill­board en­cour­ag­ing young women to fight against pros­ti­tu­tion and hu­man traf­fick­ing.
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