It has been 10 years since the world adopted the United Nations Protocol that guides the U.S. global response to modern slavery. In the United States, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 mandates that human trafficking must be confronted by working for more and better prosecutions, increased victim protection, and ultimately, prevention of this heinous crime.
One-hundred thirty seven countries are parties to the U.N. protocol. Luis CdeBaca is U.S. Ambassador-at-large with the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. He said new laws have been adopted around the world. Thousands of victims have been helped, and we have seen thousands of arrests and prosecutions that would never have been brought without the legal and policy achievements of the last decade.
Nevertheless, much still needs to be done. According to the latest International Labor Organization Report, at least 12.3 million adults and children at any time are in forced labor and sexual servitude. There are at least 1.39 million victims of sex trafficking, both national and transnational. And the data indicates that 56 percent of forced labor victims are women and girls.
The U.S. Department of Justice continues to lead the world in its prosecutions of all forms of traffickers and work with its staff at home and abroad on the collective mandate to stop modern-day slavery. At the same time, the U.S. is reaching out to its international partners in the public and private sector.
In the aftermath of natural disasters, like in Haiti, the U.S. helps NGOs register unaccompanied and separated children, educating citizens about the risks of giving away children in times of crisis, rebuilding the capacity of local non-governmental organizations, or NGOS, and tracing and reuniting families.
The U.S. also partners with foreign governments to have investigators, prosecutors, law enforcement victim-witness coordinators, and non-governmental victim advocates collaborate so that investigations are sensitive to the needs of the most vulnerable victims – women and children.
"Fighting trafficking," said Ambassador CdeBaca, "is about fighting modern slavery. ... At its core, combating trafficking in persons is about prevention, and to be clear strong prosecution and victim protection are critical to effective prevention."