Human trafficking, said Secretary of State Antony Blinken, “violates the universal right of every person to have autonomy over their own life and actions.”
“Today more than 27 million people around the world are denied that right. Trafficking harms our society, weakening the rule of law, corrupting supply chains, exploiting workers, fueling violence,” he said. “And it disproportionately impacts traditionally marginalized groups: women, LGBTQI+ individuals, persons with disabilities, ethnic and religious minorities.”
On June 15, the U.S. State Department issued its annual Trafficking in Persons Report, the world’s most comprehensive review of efforts by governments, including the United States, to combat this horrific crime.
“This year’s report shows a picture of steady progress around the world,” said Secretary Blinken, “with dozens of countries making significant strides in preventing trafficking, in protecting survivors, in prosecuting those who carry out this crime.”
As examples, he cited the Seychelles, where the government offered police and airport personnel enhanced training to better spot trafficking; Hong Kong, which launched a new hotline to help trafficking victims report fraudulent overseas employment scams and get help; Denmark, which committed more resources to identifying victims and prosecuting traffickers.
The report also highlights a number of concerning trends, said Secretary Blinken:
“The first is the continued expansion of forced labor. As the pandemic disrupted supply chains around the world … exploitative employers used a host of tactics to take advantage of lower-paid and more vulnerable workers.
“The second is the rise in labor trafficking using online scams … Traffickers capitalized on widespread unemployment to recruit victims with fake job listings and then forced them to run international scams.
“Third, the report exposes the risks facing an often-overlooked segment of trafficking victims: boys and young men.”
The reality is that any person regardless of sex or gender ideology can be targeted by traffickers, said Secretary Blinken. “That is why governments, civil society, the private sector – have to develop resources for all populations.”
“We need law enforcement working to prosecute traffickers. We need social workers providing trauma-informed care to the victims,” he said. “We need advocates holding governments accountable. We need communities coming together to support the survivors.”
The United States, said Secretary Blinken, remains committed to the crucial task of “once and for all, ending human trafficking.”