Combating Trafficking in Persons
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Trafficking in persons is a modern-day form of slavery. Trafficking victims are typically forced, defrauded or coerced into the sex services industries or into situations where their labor is exploited. Human trafficking is among the fastest growing criminal activities, occurring both worldwide and in individual countries. Annually, at least 600,000 - 800,000 people, mostly women and children, are trafficked across borders worldwide, including 14,500 - 17,500 persons into the United States. The United States government is committed to putting a stop to human trafficking. The State Department’s annual report on trafficking in persons is an important tool in our fight against this global problem. The report details international and U.S. efforts to end trafficking in persons, to protect and help victims, and prosecute those who treat people like commodities or keep them in slave-like conditions.
Podcast with Amb. CdeBaca on Fighting Against Human Trafficking
Summary: In this podcast, Ambassador CdeBaca tells us how the United States is
cooperating with international partners to improve investigative techniques and
law enforcement practices to fight human trafficking.
Listen to the podcast (mp3)
Ambassador Luis CdeBaca: The leadership principle definitely applies in law enforcement. If you've got an attorney general or an interior minister who really cares about this and is putting performance standards on his or her folks, then you will have cases that result. We want to make sure that we can get that kind of political will from the highest levels. One of the things that helps with that is to have a national action plan or to have an inter-ministerial working group that's responsible for the trafficking spots in a particular country. If you have a centralized effort, then you're more likely to see the results. And so in our recommendations, we are often, you'll notice, recommending that those types of structures get set up. And then through our training and technical assistance, through our programs budget, we then come in to try to make sure that those groups can then take the conception, the conceptual framework and put it out into the field. I think one of the reasons why there's not as many prosecutions as we'd like to see is that these laws are so new, and that the skill set in being able to find the victims and help them, and identify them as victims and then vindicate their rights - that skill set is just being developed.
I think some of it's structural. We end up having a situation where the crime itself here is a hidden crime. The perpetrator, if they're successful, has basically kept somebody behind closed doors - kept them working; kept them in prostitution or something like that. So, if the trafficker does their job right, nobody finds out about the trafficking situation. As opposed to, if the bank robber does their job right, the police might know about the bank robbery, but they just don't get there in time. I think that the street police are important, but at the end of the day, this is a complex crime that has to be dealt with by the detectives. It's kind of like saying that your street cops are going to be the ones who solve your murders for you. You have to have sophisticated policing put on this crime, otherwise you're never going to put an end to it. One of the things we're doing is we're trying to actually build upon the successes of the last 30 years in responding to things like domestic abuse, marital rape, kidnapping - in all of those we've got a new understanding of the relationship between the batterer and the victim. It's an issue of dependency; it's an issue of power. If we can build on that - now there's a lot of countries where we still have to have that conversation - frankly we can work on trafficking with some of those countries and then start to talk to them as well about how you do domestic violence cases.
Ambassador Luis CdeBaca leads the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the U.S. Department of State. A major part of the office's function is to coordinate U.S. government activities with other governments around the world in the global fight against modern slavery.
Trafficking in Persons Reports
The Trafficking in Persons Report serves as the primary diplomatic tool through which the U.S. Government encourages partnership and increased determination in the fight against forced labor and sexual exploitation.
The 158-country report is the most comprehensive worldwide report on the efforts of governments to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons, or modern-day slavery. Its findings will raise global awareness and spur countries to take effective actions to counter trafficking in persons. The assessment includes reports on countries determined to have a significant number of victims of severe forms of trafficking.