Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

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Search results for "migrant workers" ...

  • Qatar: The Price of Glory 2015

    The Price of Glory is an HBO Real Sports investigation into Qatar’s plan to achieve international recognition through sport and the price it has exacted in fair play, human rights, and even human lives. Our investigation found that the Qatari sports plan is one of unprecedented ambition and ruthlessness, based on the exploitation of foreign labor on and off the field. To build world-class athletic teams, Qatar has crisscrossed the world, paying athletes from the poorest countries on earth to become naturalized Qatari citizens. Real Sports heard it first hand from an entire team of Bulgarian weightlifters paid by Qatar to assume Arabic identities and represent the Gulf state in international competition. Our story detailed the systemic bribery that allowed this stiflingly hot desert sheikhdom without a soccer tradition to improbably win the right to host the 2022 World Cup. Ten months before a series of arrests of FIFA officials suspected of taking bribes, Real Sports spoke with a former FIFA insider about the corrupt bidding process, and detailed how Qatari officials bought their way to the very top of world soccer by plying FIFA officials on five continents. Off the field, Real Sports documented how Qatar’s sports glory is built on the backs of hundreds of thousands of the poorest people in Asia, imported and indentured to create a lavish World Cup city in the desert. Our team watched workers toil in 117-degree heat and followed them into the decrepit labor camps few outsiders have seen in order to expose the brutal conditions in which they are bonded into effective slavery. Viewers will see why thousands of these migrant workers are projected to die on the job by the time the 2022 World Cup games begin. When we first aired the piece the Qatari government told us changes were coming and that we should stand by. We took them up on their offer and revisited the situation a year later, only to find that none of the changes to the bonded labor system—known as Kafala—had taken place. In fact Nepali migrant workers were even prohibited from returning home after a massive earthquake ravaged their country. Worse still—our follow-up investigation found that some of the top people in Qatari sport weren’t just using their money to buy athletes, they were using it to fund terrorist organizations and invite radical jihadi clerics to speak at their elite sports academy. Our project spanned four years of research, four continents, and scores of interviews with athletes, activists, migrant workers, FIFA insiders, and US government officials.
  • Thai Shrimp Industry Exploits Workers to Whet Global Appetite for Cheap Shrimp

    Shrimp is big business in Thailand, thanks to an appetite in the United States that continues to grow. Today, a third of country’s exported shrimp goes to the U.S., its top customer, where retail giants like Walmart and Costco do high-volume sales and suburban Red Lobsters offer bargain blue plate specials. Breakthroughs in aquaculture have helped Thai producers keep up with the rising demand, but there’s a catch to their success: an invisible underclass of Burmese migrant workers, thousands of whom labor in sub-human conditions to keep costs down. Of the estimated 200,000 Burmese migrants working in Samut Sakhon province, the heartland of the Thai shrimp industry, about a third are unregistered and subject to rights abuses. Independent monitors say that thousands desperate to escape the poverty and dictatorship of their homeland cross the border only to find themselves trapped in bonded labor that’s tantamount to slavery. Sold by brokers to crooked factory owners, they are forced to endure long hours for pitiful wages, physical abuse and intimidation. Many are children who do not meet Thai working age requirements. Their plight is made worse, critics say, by the profit-induced apathy of Thai authorities who turn a blind eye or are complicit in abuses. Reporters Steve Sapienza and Jason Motlagh investigate exploitative labor practices at the lower levels of the supply chain.
  • Factory Slaves

    The investigation into the plight of migrant workers follows the story of a young girl who left her home in Cambodia on the promise of a good factory job but arrived only to become a debt-bonded slave.
  • Factory Girls

    "Factory Girls is the first look into the everyday lives of China's 130 million migrant workers -- the largest migration in human history."
  • Agriprocessors and Beyond: Inside the Kosher Meat Industry

    This series of articles looked inside the kosher meat industry, a quietly guarded world worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The reporting began two years ago when the Forward's Nathaniel Popper wrote about the working conditions at the nation's largest kosher slaughterhouse, Agriprocessors, in Postville, Iowa, setting off a wide-ranging debate in Jewish community. The paper has continued to follow the problems at Agriprocessors and reported early in 2008 on the debate withing the kosher industry about a widely used but apparently cruel method of kosher slaughter known as shackled and hoist. Then, in the middle of the year, federal agents, citing the Forward's reporting raided the Agriprocessors' plant in Iowa. Since the raid, the Forward has followed each legal development, but has also reported on elements of the story that were being overlooked. The first such article detailed the way in which Agriprocessors had handled immigrants and unions at its Brooklyn warehouse-sparking a case that went to the Supreme Court. The next set of articles investigated the working conditions in the rest of the kosher eat industry, with particular attention paid to the labor battles at Agriprocessors' biggest competitor, Alle Processing, which had been completely ignored. The article and chart on industry-wide conditions were the first effort to systematically set down the relative size and production of the major players in the kosher meat industry. The Forward also wrote a lengthy report on the immigrant workers from Agriprocessors who had been released from prison and ordered to testify in federal court against their supervisors, but were given no means to support themselves before the hearing date. After Agriprocessors declared bankruptcy, the Forward reported on the unnoticed consequences for the town and its inhabitants, from the lowly turkeys to the local bankers.
  • Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy

    "The book uncovers three labor environments where modern-day enslavement or near-enslavement of immigrants has taken place on American soil." Bowe looks at outsourcing, unpaid and illegal immigrant workers, and other loopholes in the American business system.
  • New Orleans Now: Immigrants, Labor Rights and the Human Cost of Rebuilding and American City- Part 1

    "An in-depth report on the variety of human rights, labor rights, health care and advocacy issues surrounding the treatment of immigrant and migrant workers in Post-Katrina New Orleans."
  • In Iowa Meat Plant, Kosher 'Jungle' Breeds Fear; Injury, Short Pay

    Nathaniel Popper, reporting for the Forward (NY) investigated a Kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, where he uncovered dangerous working conditions, low pay, and anti-unionization pressures that raised questions about the ethics of the Jewish owners of the plant towards their largely immigrant workers.
  • Citizenship For Sale

    Reporters from WTVJ-TV went undercover to witness a Florida man, Audie Watson, in the process of selling memberships in the Little Shell Band of the Pembina Nation. Watson claims the documents he sells for $1,500 allow purchasers to enter the United States legally. Reporters confronted Watson, and he agreed to be interviewed on camera. The series also showed interviews with people who had been arrested trying to cross the border with documents sold by Watson. Although Watson is now being investigated by state and federal officials and is currently on probation in Florida for an unrelated pyramid scheme conviction, his operation has not been shut down as of January 2007.
  • Harvest of Death

    The story investigated the disproportionately high number of auto fatalities and injuries caused by Hispanic drivers, most of them seasonal migrant workers, on Virginia's East Shore. Most of the accidents were alcohol related.