In late November, the State Department issued new guidelines and regulations for diplomats who bring domestic servants into the US. The Washington Examiner reported that the State Department announced in a closed meeting that, "Diplomats below the rank of minister no longer will be able to bring domestic servants into the United States without being able to show they can afford to pay them a prevailing wage."
I have written about domestic slavery and diplomatic immunity before on this site. In the past, diplomats who keep domestic slaves have gone unpunished when cases are found. More often, such cases are never detected, since it is extremely difficult for law enforcement to monitor the conditions of domestic workers, particularly in the diplomatic community.
These new guidelines are an important step to increasing oversight and ensuring that abuse of domestic workers is detected. According to the Washington Examiner, "The new guidelines, which also require diplomats to pay their servants using checks or direct deposit so payments can be traced, have already been issued to consular offices, a State Department source said. The guidelines will also require embassy chiefs to personally approve the servants their employees wish to bring with them."
Increased guidance and regulations are an important step towards addressing domestic slavery in the diplomatic community. At the same time, such efforts must be viewed as a first step, not an end point. These guidelines need to be backed by strong penalties for violations, along with increased efforts to educate domestic workers about their rights, enhanced efforts to detect and rescue domestic slaves, and additional resources for survivors of domestic slavery.