U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials will begin stopping shipments of raw sugar and sugar-based goods made in the Dominican Republic by Central Romana Corporation Limited (Roman Central) on Nov. 23, said reports.

A WRO was issued by CBP against Central Romana "based on information that reasonably indicates the use of forced labor against its workers. CBP alleges that it identified at least five of the Organization's indicators of forced labor. Labor International during its investigation, in particular, abuse of vulnerability, isolation, wage withholding, abusive working and living conditions, and excessive overtime".

CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller said, “This detainer demonstrates CBP's commitment to protecting human rights and international labor standards and promoting a fair and competitive global marketplace.”

The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that nearly 28 million workers experience forced labor conditions in the world in its 2022 report titled “Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labor and Forced Marriage.”

The US CBP alleges that "foreign companies exploit forced labor to sell goods below market value. It also hurts law-abiding businesses, threatens American jobs, and exposes consumers to inadvertently supporting unethical business practices." The scourge of human trafficking exposes vulnerable populations to inhumane working conditions such as physical and sexual violence, isolation, restriction of movement, wage withholding, excessive overtime, and more."

The release contends that “CBP continues to strengthen the international standard to ensure that goods manufactured with forced labor do not enter the commerce of the United States,” said AnnMarie R. Highsmith, Executive Assistant Commissioner for CBP's Office of Commerce. "Manufacturers like Central Romana, who fail to comply with our laws, will face consequences as we remove this inhumane practice from US supply chains."

The United States' most recent effort to address global issues of forced labor and other violations of human rights is this WRO for Central Romana. Earlier this year, the US Department of Labor identified sugarcane from the Dominican Republic on its list of goods produced by child labor or forced labor, and the US Department of State placed the Dominican Republic on its Tier 2 list in its trafficking in-person report, issued in July 2022. With this WRO, CBP now oversees the application of 55 WROs, and 9 finds.

Dominican Republic
Representation image. Shutterstock/ Maciej Czekajewski

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