President Barack Obama says the United States remains steadfast in its resolve to see that all men, women, and children live in freedom. In a statement on the annual President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons meeting at the White House, he noted that millions around the world still toil under the boot of modern slavery.
Mothers and fathers are forced to work in fields and factories against their will or in service to debts that can never be repaid. Sons and daughters are sold for sex, abducted as child soldiers, or coerced into involuntary labor. In dark corners of the world, and hidden in plain sight in local communities, human beings are exploited for financial gain and subjected to unspeakable cruelty.
The United States is committed to eradicating trafficking in persons, and to do so will draw on tools ranging from law enforcement and victim service provision, to public awareness building and diplomatic pressure. Because government efforts alone are not enough, the U.S. will also increase its partnerships with a broad coalition of local communities, faith-based and non-governmental organizations, schools, and businesses.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the State Department has made the fight against modern slavery part of its diplomatic engagement. The annual Trafficking in Persons Report is the most comprehensive assessment of how well governments, including the United States, are doing to address this crime. The Trafficking in Persons 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. Nearly 140 countries have enacted modern anti-trafficking laws, and nearly 150 are party to the United Nations Trafficking in Persons Protocol.
The U.S. Justice Department is also doing its part to prevent human trafficking, bringing traffickers to justice, and assisting victims. In the past year, said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the Justice Department has charged a record number of people with human trafficking offenses, and over the last three years has achieved significant increases in human trafficking prosecutions.
As government expands on partnerships with civil society and the private sector, President Obama is “confident that we will one day end the scourge of modern slavery.”