- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 7, 2000

Don't go there

The U.S. Embassy in Bosnia-Herzegovina is warning its employees to stay away from brothels and behave themselves.

The embassy issued its stern missive on morals this week after some members of the international community in Bosnia created a scandal by frequenting houses of ill repute, not because any American diplomats have been caught with prostitutes, a State Department spokesman said yesterday.

"Any American … employee found to have engaged the services of prostitutes or found to be frequenting a place where prostitution is practiced will be immediately … returned to the U.S. to face disciplinary action," said the Dec. 4 memo written by James Basso, the embassy's acting administrative officer.

The memo, a copy of which was obtained by Embassy Row, was issued to all U.S. diplomats, employees of the U.S. Agency for International Development and American contract workers in Bosnia.

Mr. Basso said engaging prostitutes reflects poorly on the United States and also could encourage the international trafficking in women and girls who are forced into prostitution.

"The frequenting of houses of prostitution and/or places where prostitution is conducted reflects extremely poorly on the institution and government represented and in many instances is illegal," he said.

"The situation in [Bosnia] is aggravated by the fact that a high proportion of women and children involved in the practice of prostitution fall into the definition of trafficked persons. Many of them are engaged in these practices against their will."

He also warned U.S. employees to not even go near bars or night clubs where prostitutes might hang out.

"Personnel must understand that they are required to exercise appropriate judgment," Mr. Basso added.

"An assertion of lack of knowledge of the nature of an establishment will not be an acceptable justification or excuse.

"Employees are responsible for knowing the reputation and activities of the establishments they patronize.

"Post personnel should exercise extreme caution in patronizing night clubs and bars that they are not fully familiar with.

"It is incumbent upon all employees of the U.S. Embassy not to behave in any way which may undermine [U.S. government] policy."

No Swazi sanctions

The U.S. ambassador to Swaziland congratulated the tiny southern African kingdom for amending its labor laws to avoid possible American trade sanctions.

Ambassador Gregory Johnson said the Swazi reforms will allow the country to remain in a preferential U.S. trade pact for developing countries, called the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

"This step ensures the continuation of the kingdom's status as a GSP beneficiary and paves the way for Swaziland's participation in the additional trade benefits offered under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act," he said in a statement this week.

The government of King Mswati III amended its Industrial Relations Act, passed four months ago, to remove a section that would restrict labor unions.

The act held striking employees responsible for corporate losses incurred by their labor actions.

Albania maturing

Albania's socialist-led government has made "impressive strides" three years after a financial crisis plunged the Balkan country into chaos, according to U.S. Ambassador Joseph Limprecht.

Mr. Limprecht, in a speech to Albanian judges this week, implicitly criticized supporters of former President Sali Berisha who denounced the October municipal elections as rigged and staged several violent demonstrations.

He said the government of Prime Minister Ilir Meta, the Parliament, police and judiciary have proved they can run the country.

"Together these institutions have shown an increased ability to withstand the challenges of those who would undermine public order through violence and intimidation to try to gain political advantage," he said.

Mr. Berisha lost a snap election after the country collapsed into anarchy with the failure of illegal investment schemes that cost most Albanians their life savings.

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