With its continued leadership to combat modern day slavery, the United States of America today revealed its efforts to address international human trafficking and forced labor.
In his remarks in Washington DC, Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca says President Obama is committed to the fight against modern slavery, whether trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
So what is US doing about it?
According to Mr. CdeBaca, the US is pressing ahead with the practices that have shown the best results.
The US government is ramping up victim identification efforts and prosecuting more traffickers.
It is providing services to survivors and working to train law enforcement and justice officials around the world, he added.
“We’re keeping track of this problem and how well governments are fighting it through our annual “Trafficking in Persons Report.” – Mr. CdeBaca
In addition, the State Department has worked with partner agencies to make sure people who travel to this country on non-immigrant visas are aware of their rights.
It made its reporting standards sharper and more specific. It has also enhanced protections for immigrant victims who are resettled in their home countries, he cited.
In addition, US partner agencies have established programs for unaccompanied alien children, implemented new family unification measures, and are incorporating trafficking offenses into the unified Crime Reporting Statistics, he added.
“This is a record of which we should all be proud.” – Mr. CdeBaca
However, Mr. CdeBaca says the scale of the problem of which the ILO reports showed that around the world 21 million people are victims of forced labor.
“We realize that the future of this struggle will depend on new innovations and fresh approaches.” – Mr. CdeBaca
The US government is also focused on developing those new ideas for dealing with this crime.
It is addressing a culture that acts as if modern slavery is someone else’s problem and we’re confronting the mentality that the low cost of a product came at no cost to the worker, Mr. CdeBaca added.
When it comes to forced labor, the US is taking a hard look at the supply chains and labor sources behind the products we use every day.
“We need to keep prosecuting traffickers and protecting their victims, but if that’s all we’re doing, it means we’re cleaning up the mess after the abuse and exploitation occurs.” – Mr. CdeBaca
Stopping this problem in the supply chain will require greater awareness by consumers and new partnerships with the private sector, he pointed out.
To address the problem, the US has brought potential partners to the table.
The US has made the case that fighting slavery is good business after all.
Harvard Business School showed the world that American consumers are often willing to pay a price premium if they know what they’re buying hasn’t been tainted by modern slavery, Mr. CdeBaca said.
The US is helping develop codes of conduct and monitoring standards that will allow businesses to make the fight against slavery a part of their corporate policies.
In addition, the US believes that it needs to lead by example.
He adds that U.S. Government is one of the largest purchasers in the world.
That’s why the President Obama signed an executive order earlier this year that provides more extensive prohibitions and protections for United States government purchases to make sure American tax dollars are not being used to support human trafficking, Mr. CdeBaca highlighted.
“This action sends a clear message about how seriously this Administration takes this problem.” – Mr. CdeBaca
It also tells companies, “If you want to do business with the U.S. Government, modern slavery is a problem you need to confront as well,” Mr. CdeBaca underlined.
Mr. CdeBaca stresses that if the US continues to support this effort with the support and resources it needs, they will be able to enlist more partners in this struggle, develop new tools for fighting this crime, and move us closer to a world free from slavery.
“Our fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time, and the United States will continue to lead it.” – Mr. CdeBaca
The United States recognizes that human trafficking shatters families and communities.
Reports say around the world, as many as 27 million men, women, and children toil in bondage.
The White House recently issued a National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security to ensure that women are full partners and participants in our efforts to reduce conflict and promote peace and prosperity around the world, because after all, modern slavery disproportionately affects women and girls.
The Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security contains specific steps to prevent human trafficking of women and children as a result of conflict and to provide assistance to victims, Ms. Clinton noted
The State Department has made the struggle against modern slavery an important part of our diplomatic engagement, she cited.
The US annual Trafficking in Persons Report is the most comprehensive assessment of how well governments are doing to address this crime.
The TIP Office’s foreign assistance grants are making a difference in 37 countries, supporting programs that provide crucial assistance to survivors and help governments build their capacity to fight this crime.
The US leadership has pooled the international community to get behind the effort as well.
Nearly 140 countries have enacted modern anti-trafficking laws, and nearly 150 are party to the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol, Ms. Clinton noted.
The United States is trying to ensure that resources and support are available to victims, and one of those resources is the Department of Health and Human Services National Human Trafficking Resource Center.
The US now have online tools like the Slavery Footprint so that people can understand the ways in which this crime affects them.
The United States is confident that the Administration working together, with civil society, with not-for-profits, with the private sector, the world can actually tackle this issue head on and conquer it.
In 2011, the United States has a record number of people with human trafficking offenses, and over the last three years the US government has achieved significant increases in human trafficking prosecutions, including the rise of more than 30 percent in the number of forced labor and adult sex trafficking prosecutions.
The US government has secured long prison sentences against individual traffickers. It has also dismantled really large transnational organized crime enterprises.
The Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team, or ACT Team, initiative that’s an interagency collaboration among the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Labor, was implemented to streamline federal criminal investigations and prosecute human trafficking offenses.
The United States has also launched six Phase One Pilot ACT Teams around the country. And they are located in Atlanta, El Paso, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Memphis, and Miami, and today these teams are fully operational.
The United States has restored freedom to undocumented Eastern European women and convicted the traffickers who brutally exploited them in massage parlors in Chicago and even branded them with tattoos to claim them as their own property.
We have secured a life sentence against a gang member in the Eastern District of Virginia, just across the river here, for sex trafficking of victims as young as 12 years old, Mr. Holder reported
For the entire anti-trafficking community, the US is continuing to provide training and technical assistance as well.
In 2011, efforts have included hosting three regional training forums that have focused on improving collaboration as well as the development of a training curriculum to help state prosecutors and state judges better understand human trafficking crimes.
The United States is working with Mexican law enforcement partners, the collaboration has dismantled sex trafficking networks that operate on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border and have brought freedom to victims and secured really landmark convictions and substantial sentences against the traffickers in these high-impact bilateral cases.
The United States underlines that combating human trafficking is an affront to its most fundamental values.
Anywhere from 12 to 27 million people are currently held in forced labor, bonded labor, or forced prostitution. That’s equivalent to all the people who live in London at the low end and the combined populations of New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. at the high end.
The victims range from the men and women enslaved in fields, factories, and brothels to the girls and boys whose childhoods have been shattered and stolen, to the parents whose children have vanished.