US Defense Contractor Held Responsible For Sex Trafficking in Bosnia
Two DynCorp employees won recent legal victories after the defense-contracting firm fired them for reporting co-workers involved in sex-slave trade in Bosnia. The court actions, which took place in England and Fort Worth, Texas, suggest that the company did not move aggressively enough when reports of sex trafficking emerged in 1999, according to Salon.com.
While at least 13 employees have been sent home from Bosnia - seven of those fired - for purchasing women, many of them underage, or participating in other sex trafficking activities, none have faced criminal charges – despite large amounts of evidence. Employees of DynCorp and other private military companies are able to escape prosecution for crimes committed overseas because of protections granted under international treaties, the unwillingness of law enforcement systems in places such as Bosnia to police US contractors and because their actions fall outside the jurisdiction of US courts.
In England, Kathryn Bolkovac, who was fired after she sent an email to DynCorp and UN officials describing complicity in forced prostitution by international aid workers, was found by a tribunal to have “acted reasonably” while Dyncorp did not, according to Salon.com. “DynCorp is an enormous operation with strong ties to the US government,” Karen Bailey, Bolkovac’s legal representative said in a prepared statement. “She took on the big guns and won. The plight of trafficking victims is appalling and I’m glad that Kathryn’s case has done some way to bringing it to wider attention.” The tribunal ruled that DynCorp violated England’s whistleblower statute when they fired Bolkovac – a hearing is scheduled in October to determine what damages the company will face.
In Forth Worth, DynCorp agreed to settle a lawsuit late last week with Ben Johnson, who was fired after he reported that several fellow DynCorp employees purchased underage women. The case was settled two days before it was set to go to trial - the settlement amount is confidential. “This settlement wouldn’t have happened if DynCorp hadn’t, at least internally, accepted some responsibility for what happened in the Balkans,” Johnston’s Attorney Kevin Glasheen told Salon.com.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .