[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 191 (Monday, October 3, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 68062-68064]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-23500]


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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Office of the Secretary of Labor


Notice of Final Determination Regarding the Proposed Revision of 
the List of Products Requiring Federal Contractor Certification as to 
Forced or Indentured Child Labor Pursuant to Executive Order 13126

AGENCY: Bureau of International Labor Affairs

ACTION: Notice of final determination.

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SUMMARY: This notice announces a final determination that carpets from 
India will not be added to the List of Products Requiring Federal 
Contractor Certification as to Forced or Indentured Child Labor (EO 
List) required by Executive Order No. 13126 (``Prohibition of 
Acquisition of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child 
Labor''). The Departments of Labor, State, and Homeland Security 
(collectively, the Departments) proposed adding carpets from India to 
the EO List in a Notice of Initial Determination in the Federal 
Register on December 2, 2014. 79 FR 71448. After a thorough review of 
the information available and comments received, the Departments have 
determined that there is not sufficient evidence at this time 
establishing more than isolated incidents of forced or indentured child 
labor in the production of carpets in India. With this final 
determination, the current EO List remains in place. The list 
identifies products, by country of origin, which the Departments have a 
reasonable basis to believe might have been mined, produced, or 
manufactured by forced or indentured child labor. Under a final rule by 
the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council, published January 18, 2001, 
which also implements Executive Order No. 13126, federal contractors 
who supply products on the EO List are required to certify, among other 
things, that they have made a good faith effort to determine whether 
forced or indentured child labor was used to produce those products and 
that, on the basis of those efforts, the contractor is unaware of any 
such use of child labor. See 66 FR 5346, 5347; 48 CFR 22.1502(c).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Initial Determination

    On December 2, 2014, the Departments published a Notice of Initial 
Determination in the Federal Register proposing to add carpets from 
India to the List of Products Requiring Federal Contractor 
Certification as to Forced or Indentured Child Labor (EO List). 79 FR 
71448. The Departments issued the initial determination because they 
had a reasonable basis to believe that there was forced or indentured 
child labor in the production of carpets from India in more than 
isolated incidents. This initial determination can be accessed on the 
Internet at https://federalregister.gov/a/2014-27624.

II. Public Comment Period

    When the initial determination was issued, the public was invited 
to submit comments until January 30, 2015 on whether carpets from India 
should be added to the EO List, as well as any other issues related to 
the fair and effective implementation of Executive Order No. 13126. 
During the public comment period, three comments were submitted. Those 
comments are available for public viewing at http://www.regulations.gov 
(reference Docket ID No. DOL-2014-0004).
    During this comment period, the comments received called into 
question whether all the criteria required for adding a good to the EO 
List had been met. One of the three comments was from the Carpet Export 
Promotion Council (CEPC), which opposed the addition of carpets from 
India to the EO List. The CEPC's submission included a survey it had 
commissioned in 2104 on labor practices in the Indian carpet industry. 
Based on the findings of the survey, the CEPC stated that while there 
are cases of child labor, there is no evidence of forced child labor in 
the production or manufacture of this good. However, the CEPC survey 
methodology had sampling and questionnaire design limitations that 
affected its ability to capture forced labor or collect data on a 
representative sample of the carpet industry.
    The two other comments received did not provide enough specificity 
on the conditions or prevalence of children's work in order to be able 
to make a final determination that forced or indentured child labor in 
India's carpet industry is occurring in more than isolated incidents. 
GoodWeave submitted a comment in support of including carpets produced 
in India on the EO List, along with two newspaper articles reporting 
two rescue operations during which children were removed from carpet 
production facilities where they were forced to work. However, 
GoodWeave's submission did not discuss the prevalence of forced child 
labor in carpet production; rather, it only discussed the prevalence of 
child labor within the industry. While the newspaper articles do 
discuss forced child labor, they do not demonstrate that forced child 
labor is prevalent in the industry.
    Siddharth Kara, a Harvard University researcher and faculty member, 
also submitted a public comment in support of adding Indian carpets to 
the EO List. Kara cited the findings of his research study, which was 
one of the sources cited by the Departments in making their initial 
determination. Even though Kara's submission stated that his research 
found a significant prevalence of forced labor and child labor in 
India's carpet industry, neither the comment nor the study itself 
specifically addresses the prevalence of forced child labor in the 
industry. While Kara clarified in a separate correspondence that all 
children categorized as engaged in child labor were in fact engaged in 
forced labor as defined by international standards, the Departments 
were not able to determine whether child labor victims discussed in 
Kara's research study were exposed to specific indicators of forced 
labor, as defined by international standards.

III. Gathering, Receipt, and Analysis of Additional Information

    In light of the inconsistency in the information received during 
the initial public comment period, the Departments gathered and 
received twenty additional comments on forced child labor in India's 
carpet industry.

[[Page 68063]]

The information gathered and received can be found at http://www.regulations.gov (reference Docket ID No. DOL-2014-0004).
    This information received did not provide sufficient evidence that 
there are more than isolated incidents of forced child labor in India's 
carpet industry. Department of Labor (DOL) officials interviewed 
several international and Indian non-governmental organizations about 
forced child labor in the carpet industry following the initial 
determination, including during a visit to India in May 2015. While 
some of these entities stated that there is forced child labor in this 
industry, they were unable to provide specific information on the 
number of children involved. One stated that such practices occurred, 
but that the prevalence had decreased. However, this assessment was not 
based on a reliable data collection exercise and the commenter was not 
able to provide information about the prevalence of forced child labor 
that may remain in the sector.
    DOL also collected several articles from local Indian newspapers 
reporting on the rescue of children from hidden carpet production 
facilities where they were making carpets and unable to leave. While 
these newspaper articles provide evidence that forced child labor 
occurs in the production of carpets, they do not demonstrate that 
forced child labor is occurring in more than isolated incidents. These 
types of incidents have been reported infrequently in local newspapers, 
have involved a small number of children, and have been limited to one 
administrative district within India.
    Following the initial determination and during the May 2015 trip to 
India, the Government of India and the CEPC submitted additional 
comments and met with DOL officials explaining why carpets produced in 
India should not be added to the EO List. The CEPC also submitted an 
additional study it had commissioned in 2015 in which children working 
in the carpet industry were interviewed. The study concluded that there 
were no instances of forced child labor among the children interviewed 
because there was no restriction on ability to leave employment, nor 
any underpayment of minimum wage. Based on the findings of this study, 
the CEPC maintained that there is no evidence of forced child labor in 
the production or manufacture of this good. However, the survey 
methodology of this study also had sampling and questionnaire design 
limitations that affected its ability to capture forced labor or 
collect data on a representative sample of the carpet industry.
    During the trip to India, DOL officials also traveled to carpet 
production facilities with non-governmental organizations and to others 
that participate in a CEPC monitoring program. During those visits, the 
DOL officials observed industry practices and did not uncover any 
specific evidence of forced child labor in India's carpet industry.

IV. Extended Public Comment Period

    On June 17, 2016, DOL reopened and extended the period for public 
comments until July 15, 2016, to allow the public to view and comment 
on all information submitted or gathered since the initial 
determination, and to comment generally on whether carpets from India 
should be added to the EO List. 81 FR 39714. DOL received one comment 
during the extended public comment period. The comment was submitted by 
the CEPC and explained why carpets from India should not be added to 
the EO List. The comment is available for public viewing at http://www.regulations.gov (reference Docket ID No. DOL-2014-0004).

V. Final Determination

    The Departments have carefully reviewed, analyzed, and considered 
the evidence available in determining whether to add carpets from India 
to the EO List. In so doing, the Departments considered and weighed the 
factors identified in the Procedural Guidelines for the Maintenance of 
the List of Products Requiring Federal Contractor Certification as to 
Forced or Indentured Child Labor (available at http://webapps.dol.gov/FederalRegister/PdfDisplay.aspx?DocId=18024), including the nature of 
information presented, the source of information, the date of the 
information, the extent of corroboration of the information by 
appropriate sources, whether the information involved more than 
isolated incidents, and whether recent and credible efforts are being 
made to address forced or indentured child labor in the country and 
industry. 66 FR 5352. The Departments therefore conclude that the 
available evidence at this time does not meet the criteria required to 
add this product to the EO List. While there is evidence of forced 
child labor in the industry, there is not sufficient evidence at this 
time demonstrating that children are subject to forced labor in 
circumstances that represent more than isolated incidents. We will 
continue to monitor this situation and gather information through our 
ongoing research process.
    The initial determination, the extension of request for public 
comments, and the public comments can also be obtained from: Office of 
Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT), Bureau of 
International Labor Affairs, Room S-5317, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 
Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20210; telephone: (202) 693-
4843; fax: (202) 693-4830.

VI. Background

    The first EO List was published on January 18, 2001. 66 FR 5353. 
The EO List was subsequently revised on July 20, 2010, 75 FR 42164; on 
May 31, 2011, 76 FR 31365; on April 3, 2012, 77 FR 20051; and on July 
23, 2013, 78 FR 44158.
    Executive Order 13126, which was published in the Federal Register 
on June 16, 1999, 64 FR 32383, declared that it was ``the policy of the 
United States Government . . . that the executive agencies shall take 
appropriate actions to enforce the laws prohibiting the manufacture or 
importation of goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced 
or manufactured wholly or in part by forced or indentured child 
labor.'' Pursuant to Executive Order 13126, and following public notice 
and comment, DOL published in the January 18, 2001, Federal Register a 
list of products, identified by their country of origin, that DOL, in 
consultation and cooperation with DOS and the Department of the 
Treasury (relevant responsibilities now within DHS), had a reasonable 
basis to believe might have been mined, produced or manufactured by 
forced or indentured child labor. 66 FR 5353.
    Pursuant to Section 3 of Executive Order 13126, the Federal 
Acquisition Regulatory Council published a final rule in the Federal 
Register on January 18, 2001, providing, amongst other requirements, 
that federal contractors who supply products that appear on the EO List 
must certify to the contracting officer that the contractor, or, in the 
case of an incorporated contractor, a responsible official of the 
contractor, has made a good faith effort to determine whether forced or 
indentured child labor was used to mine, produce, or manufacture any 
product furnished under the contract and that, on the basis of those 
efforts, the contractor is unaware of any such use of child labor. 48 
CFR Subpart 22.15.
    DOL also published on January 18, 2001, ``Procedural Guidelines for 
the Maintenance of the List of Products Requiring Federal Contractor 
Certification as to Forced or Indentured Child Labor'' (``Procedural 
Guidelines''),

[[Page 68064]]

which provide for maintaining, reviewing, and, as appropriate, revising 
the EO List. 66 FR 5351. The Procedural Guidelines provide that the EO 
List may be revised either through consideration of submissions by 
individuals or on the initiative of DOL, DOS and DHS. In either event, 
when proposing to revise the EO List, DOL must publish in the Federal 
Register a notice of initial determination, which includes any proposed 
alteration to the EO List. DOL, DOS and DHS consider all public 
comments prior to the publication of a final determination of a revised 
EO List.

III. Definitions

    Under Section 6(c) of EO 13126:
    ``Forced or indentured child labor'' means all work or service--
    (1) Exacted from any person under the age of 18 under the menace of 
any penalty for its nonperformance and for which the worker does not 
offer himself voluntarily; or
    (2) Performed by any person under the age of 18 pursuant to a 
contract the enforcement of which can be accomplished by process or 
penalties.

    Signed at Washington, DC, this 22th day of September, 2016.
Carol Pier,
Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs.
[FR Doc. 2016-23500 Filed 9-30-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4510-28-P