Citing the achievements since the spur of Civil Rights movement, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States has worked to rise above the legacy of slavery.
In his remarks at the UN Commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Secretary Kerry says US has to protect the right of every person to fundamental freedoms.
“Today we pay tribute to the millions whose lives were cruelly damaged and millions lost as a result of the transatlantic slave trade.” – Secretary Kerry
He says men, women and children were forced into bondage and this destroyed lives, families, and societies.
US removes the chains of slavery
According to Secretary Kerry, one hundred and fifty years ago, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that removed the chains of slavery and declared all people enslaved in the rebellious states “then, thenceforward, and forever free.”
He says the Thirteenth Amendment to United States Constitution abolished slavery once and for all in the United States.
“We are proud that these documents are now on display at the United Nations.” – Secretary Kerry
He notes the Emancipation Proclamation was an act of justice extraordinary for its time and legacy.
However, Secretary Kerry says its promises were not fulfilled on a single occasion.
He cites Americans struggled to fulfill the principles of its founders stated clearly in our Constitution: that all women and men would be granted the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Remembering the slave trade: Most painful chapters in US History
Secretary Kerry says the slave trade was a business of monumental proportions, conservative estimates put the total numbers exiled from the African homeland between ten and twelve million.
He narrates that by the time the American Civil War broke out in 1861, the largest enslaved population in the world lived in the United States.
“This period is one of the most painful chapters in my country’s history.” – Secretary Kerry
The US acknowledges and honor the long fight for freedom that is so central to the experience of all Americans, in particular those who fought to end this repugnant practice on our shores, Secretary Kerry emphasized.
US continue to advocate for abolishment of slavery abroad
According to Secretary Kerry, US work is far from complete at home or abroad.
He says the world is witness to human trafficking, which President Obama has called “a debasement of our common humanity.”
Secretary Kerry notes more than 20 million men, women, and children are victims of human trafficking without recourse to protection or justice.
“Together, we can bring traffickers to justice, empower survivors to reclaim their rightful freedom, and end this scourge once and for all.” – Secretary Kerry
Secretary Kerry encourages the world to bear witness to the past in which basic rights were denied.
“Let us build a future in which no form of human slavery exists, a future in which all men and women can live in dignity and freedom.” – Secretary Kerry
US Makes Significant Progess to Combat Modern Slavery
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 US 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
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.
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.
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 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.