US leads effort to end the scourge!
Declaring January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month, the United States of America today said the world has made progress in combating the global scourge of human trafficking.
In her remarks in Washington DC, US Under Secretary Sarah Sewall for for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Center for Strategic and International Studies said more than one hundred countries have passed anti-trafficking laws, and many have established specialized law enforcement units, set up trafficking victim assistance mechanisms, and launched public awareness campaigns aimed at combating the worldwide crime.
“Normatively, we have come a long way in the past 15 years: 166 states are now party to the Palermo Protocol.” -Ms Sewall
Countries make human trafficking as international priority
According to Ms. Sewall, trafficking has moved from a misunderstood, secondary issue to an international priority regularly raised by the highest officials and leaders throughout the world, including President Obama and the current Pope.
For the last 15 years, the United States and its partners have led efforts to end the crime of human slavery and human trafficking.
Ms. Sewall highlighted that respect for human rights, domestic and international rule of law, strong democratic institutions, and partnerships with civil society are keys to not only to preventing political crises but also to enabling the state to act quickly and efficiently when they occur.
US confronts human trafficking
Through the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA)and the annual State Department Trafficking in Persons or TIP Report, global awareness of human trafficking and galvanizing international action to address both labor and sex trafficking crimes are made in global perspective.
The Report analyzes the efforts of 188 countries and territories – including the United States – to confront this global scourge.
In addition, the TIP Report plays an important role in confronting this lucrative transnational crime.
“Secretary Kerry calls it ‘a gold standard in assessing how well governments – including our own – are meeting that responsibility’ of confronting human trafficking.” – Ms. Sewall
The TIP Report also provides a list of specific recommendations for how each country and territory can better prevent this crime, prosecute its perpetrators and assist its victims. These recommendations are the heart of the Report.
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.
The Center is really making a difference in reaching out to survivors and helping us prosecute abusers.
The US now 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.
Mr Holder underlines that by bringing federal investigative agencies and federal prosecutors together, they are allowing us to develop and to advance high-impact human trafficking prosecutions.
In 2011, the United States has dismantled a large transnational organized crime enterprise that held Ukrainian victims in forced labor in Philadelphia.
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.
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 has underlined 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.