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Monday, November 19, 2012

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Judge halts part of human trafficking initiative
A federal judge blocked part of the voter-approved ballot initiative related to human trafficking, until a court hearing that will be held tomorrow, November 20. The decision has temporarily halted a provision of Proposition 35 that requires registered sex offenders to give authorities a list of their Internet providers and screen names. The initiative passed on November 6, election day, with 81 percent support. The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of sex offenders, arguing that such a requirement restricts offenders' First Amendment right to free speech and their due process and equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Travel Industry Takes on Human Trafficking
The travel industry has been increasing efforts to combat human trafficking, working with private advocacy groups and the federal government in long-term, coordinated initiatives that go beyond its normal philanthropic activities. At a news conference in September, Mr. Gilliland announced Sabre’s “Passport to Freedom” initiative, which will train its 10,000 employees in 60 countries how to identify and report potential trafficking incidents. Jada Pinkett Smith, an actress and anti-human trafficking activist, was one of the speakers. Sabre, which owns Travelocity, plans to expand its outreach to businesses, travel agents and travelers who use its software and will eventually include informational links in all itineraries to raise awareness of the largely hidden problem.

Cotton ban gains momentum with apparel firms 
 More than 120 international apparel brands and retailers have now pledged to ban the use of cotton from Uzbekistan as part of efforts to stop the country using forced and child labor to harvest its cotton crop. Zara, JC Penney, American Eagle, and Fruit of the Loom are the most recent companies to join the growing list of signatories, which include Gucci, H&M, Walmart, and the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), which represents more than 75% of the US apparel and footwear industry. The US-based Responsible Sourcing Network (RSN) has coordinated the so-called 'Cotton Pledge', which builds on efforts that began in 2004 in response to a call to action by Uzbek human rights groups. The companies say they intend to maintain the ban on Uzbek cotton until the International Labor Organization (ILO) independently verifies the end of forced labour.

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