By Haitham SabbahThis might sound off-topic, but it is not and you will know why by reading until the end. Yet, it is so salient to every single one of us who are members of a global society.
The list is a huge boon for consumers who want to choose slave-free products. At least one can decisively take action to prevent slavery in the production of consumer goods by holding companies and countries accountable for the slavery they use in making the goods we buy.
On the other hand, I was surprised to see Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon among the list of countries who use Child Labor and Forced Labor in making some goods that we buy.
The list of good per country is as follows:
Egypt: Cotton and Stones (limestone) — both Child Labor
Jordan: Garments — Forced Labor
Lebanon: Tobacco — Child Labor
Under international labor standards, Child Labor and Forced Labor are defined as:
“Child Labor” under international standards means all work performed by a person below the age of 15. It also includes all work performed by a person below the age of 18 in the following practices:
1. all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale or trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom, or forced or compulsory labor, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;
2. the use, procuring, or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic purposes;
3. the use, procuring, or offering of a child for illicit activities in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs; and
4. work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety, or morals of children.
The work referred to in subparagraph (4) is determined by the laws, regulations, or competent authority of the country involved.
“Forced Labor” under international standards means all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty for its non-performance and for which the worker does not offer himself voluntarily, and includes indentured labor. “Forced Labor” includes work provided or obtained by force, fraud, or coercion, including:
1. by threats of serious harm to, or physical restraint against any person;
2. by means of any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause the person to believe that, if the person did not perform such labor or services, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint; or
3. by means of the abuse or threatened abuse of law or the legal process.
This even made me more worried. I can understand the “Child Labor” in some areas due to extreme poverty, although this can’t serve as an excuse for child labor, but “Forced Labor” and having that in JORDAN, it sounds like a stereotypical Hollywood movie about Arabs.
While I tend to doubt most (if not all) reports by official US agencies because of their hidden agendas, which are usually written carefully to meet certain objectives, which at the very least can be described as “blackmailing” governments and countries, however, I also believe that “there is no smoke without fire”.
Now some facts. Garment factories in Jordan are many and well known to have a good number of laborers working in them. Most products and goods are made for export to the US and European markets. However, what most non-Jordanians don’t know is that this industry has grown rapidly after the peace agreement between Jordan and Israel. I don’t know the exact number of these factories around Jordan, but I know for sure that Israeli businessmen own and run most of them. The reason why Israelis opened these factories in Jordan is the “Cheap Labor“, which any businessman will be hunting for around the world. But to turn this “cheap labor” to “forced labor” is a dangerous factor if it is true.
Now this sounds conflicting. Is it the Israeli-owned garment factories in Jordan which flagged Jordan to be listed in this report, or the few other Jordanian-owned factories, or both? And if it is the Israeli factories, should we believe that the report is so unbiased to list Jordan while they know that the factories are run with Israeli money? Or is it a typographical mistake by the agent who wrote the report and missed this part intentionally or due to ignorance? I personally tend to believe the last one.
In Jordan, we got used to accepting the term “Cheap Labor”, but to turn that to something worse than slavery and making it “Forced Labor”? This is the last thing one can imagine to hear. But look for the cause…
I hope I’m wrong, but I also hope this opens door for investigations to get to the bottom of it and I’m sure Jordan will not accept to be included in this shameful list due to a crime done on its soil by inhuman businessmen such as the Israeli Zionist Jews. I know this will not be easy, but I’m also sure Jordan and Jordanians will not accept that their people (and other nationalities) work in such conditions, which is worse than slavery.
Interested investigators can start with the list of references at the end of the report (page 118-119) which can be downloaded from here (PDF).