The United Nations (search) is a place where members love to wax on about human rights. But it’s also a place where some of those same members apparently think they can get away with slavery.
That’s the claim of an Indian woman, who says a high ranking minister at the Kuwait (search) mission to the U.N. brought her to the states, stole her passport, forced her to work 14-hour days and raped her.
“It’s modern-day slavery,” says the lawyer who is filing the case against the U.N. “A certain class of people are allowed to bring other people to this country and keep them in horrendous working conditions.”
A total of 3,425 foreign workers have been issued special visas (search) by the State Department to work at consulates and embassies in the United States. Diplomats promise to abide by our labor laws, but they often don’t. Cases of abuse brought to the attention of authorities in Washington and New York have been resolved in settlements or dismissed on the basis of diplomatic immunity.
If a judge takes the case of the Indian maid, it will be the first time a U.N. diplomat will be forced to answer for violating a worker’s rights. Until then, U.N. declarations about human rights ring hollow if those same rights are violated by U.N. members at home.
And that’s the Observer.
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