Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons today said trafficking in persons is a hidden crime.
In his statement before the U.S. Helsinki Commission, Mr. CdeBaca reported that estimates on the total number of trafficking victims in the world start at 12.5 million on the low end and reach to 27 million on the high end.
“The victims are fishermen trapped on boats, their passports confiscated, forced to work twenty-hour days. They are women drawn away from their homes with the promise of good work, only to find themselves trapped as domestic servants with no pay and no way to escape.”-Mr. CdeBaca
According to Mr. CdeBaca, the victims are men brought overseas by unscrupulous recruiters who put them to work in fields and factories and force them to pay back the recruiters’ fees.
He added the problem is not isolated in faraway places in the world or limited to countries stricken by poverty or lack of opportunity. He also stated the crime is prevalent in the United States.
“As a federal prosecutor, I saw it firsthand. The reality of this crime becomes very clear through the stories of survivors, many of whom found themselves deceived and trapped while in the hopeful pursuit of a life of greater opportunity and freedom.”Mr. CdeBaca
Mr. CdeBaca highlighted that it’s difficult to know exactly how many victims of labor trafficking are recorded in the United States. He said gathering accurate statistics on the number of victims is an ongoing challenge. The victims of trafficking are often afraid or unable to come forward. Accurate reporting is nearly impossible to record.
“So rather than attempting to precisely outline the scope of the problem, I hope this testimony will help to highlight particular challenges in combating labor trafficking, including those singled out by the Commission; summarize the positive steps we have taken; share the promising practices we have seen from government, law enforcement, and civil society; and lay out where we need to go from here to expand and improve our efforts to combat labor trafficking in the United States.”-Mr. CdeBaca
According to Mr. CdeBaca, the US government’s strategy to address modern trafficking is based on the 3P Paradigm-prosecution, protection, and prevention-set forth in the UN Palermo Protocol, the decade-old document that established the framework for the modern anti-trafficking movement.
“In all three areas, we are seeing progress, and interagency coordination continues to improve so that across government we are united in this struggle.”-Mr. CdeBaca
Mr. CdeBaca also praised his colleagues at the Department of Labor (DOL) for implementing a rule that strengthens protections for Temporary Agricultural Employment H-2A Aliens in the United States.
Mr. CdeBaca underscored that despite successes, there’s a need to continue building the US capacity and ensuring that the needed resources are in place to make anti-trafficking efforts across government more coordinated and effective.