The United States remains committed to a world in which every person is able to live free from tyranny, exploitation, and enslavement. But there is still a long way to go said Luis CdeBaca, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large tasked with monitoring and combating human trafficking.
"We continue to see people bought and sold in prostitution, held in involuntary servitude in factories, farms, fishing vessels, and homes, and captured to serve as child soliders," said Ambassador CdeBaca. "This crime persists," he said, "because it is a fluid phenomenon that responds to market demand and operates in zones of impunity that are created by vulnerabilities in laws, natural disasters, and economic instability."
Human trafficking occurs both within countries and across international borders. It is not limited to one gender, faith or geographic area, but it impacts individuals and societies across the globe. Men comprise a significant number of trafficking victims. At the same time, there has been a trend toward the feminization of modern slavery. Today, women make up the majority of those trapped in commercial sex as well as in forced labor situations.
In spite of the many challenges that remain, there have been positive developments in the fight against human trafficking, particularly since the promulgation of the United Nations Palermo Protocol of 2000. One-hundred and forty-one countries have become parties to the Palermo Protocol and 116 countries have enacted legislation prohibiting all forms of trafficking.
Positive developments in Europe include a significant uptick in trafficking victim identification in Albania thanks to proactive implementation of their National Referral Mechanism. And Bosnia and Herzegovina has evolved from a country with widespread sex slavery and abuse problems during the Balkan wars of the 1990s to a country with improved penalties for convicted traffickers and victim protection partnerships with non-governmental organizations.
To keep this trend going, human trafficking must continue to be an agenda item for the U.S. and its allies. Penalties for traffickers must be increased and legal protections for domestic workers must be put in place. "Mindful of each trafficked man, woman and child around the world," said Ambassador CdeBaca, "we must act together with a fierce urgency to find new and innovative solutions to tackle this age-old crime."