Foreign Workers at US Embassies Exploited

State Department report finds coercion, abuse among contractors
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2011 2:55 PM CST
Foreign Workers at US Embassies Exploited
This file photo shows a view of the US Embassy in Riyadh in 2002.   (Getty Images)

Contractors at US embassies in the Arab world are abusing and exploiting their foreign workers, according to a new State Department report spotted by Foreign Policy. The department’s inspector general looked into six contractors, and found that more than 70% of their workers “live in overcrowded, unsafe, or unsanitary conditions, particularly in Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” the report said. And every contractor confiscated its workers’ passports to prevent them from quitting.

In Saudi Arabia, 19 gardeners have been crammed in one dilapidated building with “numerous fire and safety hazards.” In Abu Dhabi, janitors were given an average 24 feet of living space—far less than the 45-60 square feet an inmate in a US federal prison could expect. Contractors also pay different wages based on a worker’s nationality, and improperly dock pay. The report recommends seven changes to protect these workers, but the Bureau of Administration’s Office of Procurement Executive has rejected all of them, for what the inspector general calls “unclear” reasons.

For more, see the Huffington Post. (More US embassies stories.)

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