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Fighting a Plague on Humanity


Unidentified Thai suspects of human trafficking appear at a news conference at police headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, Aug. 4, 2015.

Modern slavery is a blight on humanity, and is nearly universally condemned.

Modern slavery is a blight on humanity, and is nearly universally condemned. But it does not exist in a vacuum. Trafficking in persons is often perpetrated by well-organized, transnational criminal gangs that ensure smooth operations through bribery. In the process, they destroy not only the lives of people whom they enslave; they degrade entire economies.

“[Slavery] doesn't just destroy communities and harm everyday people, it fuels a network of ruthless criminals and armed groups that create insecurity and instability around the world,” said David Luna, a Senior Director in the Office of Anti-Crime Programs at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

“The societal harms and impacts posed by human trafficking are very real. Corruption helps to fuel it and enriches not only those criminal networks behind today’s modern slavery but also enables corrupt police, customs, judicial, and other security officials who protect traffickers and allow them to carry out their criminal activities.”

Modern slavery recognizes no borders. And therefore, just as no economy is immune from corruption, no single jurisdiction can solve this problem on its own.

To defeat this scourge, the community of nations must begin by making clear to the public how much harm human trafficking causes to communities, and educating vulnerable populations about the methods used to ensnare and exploit those they enslave. We must also increase the scrutiny of supply chains where little to none may exist. Governments must adopt the highest standards of accountability and human rights protection, and ensure that their suppliers and contractors are held to those standards as well.

At the same time, international organizations and companies must enforce policies against human trafficking throughout their supply chains. Mechanisms must be established to report cases of abuse, harassment or violence, and to identify and protect victims of trafficking.

“Human trafficking siphons away the human capital potential of communities to build sustainable economic growth in a manner that respects human rights,” said Mr. Luna.

“No person should ever have a price tag attached to their heart and soul nor be restricted, abused, and violated against their physical integrity and free will.”

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