Fighting Human Trafficking, Major Commitment of Bush AdministrationPaula J. Dobriansky, Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs
June 14, 2005
Freedom, as President Bush has declared, is on the march. In every corner of the globe we see people struggling for their inalienable rights.
People have taken to the streets to demand elections, insist on an end to corruption and persecution, and call for leaders who are accountable to the needs and desires of their citizens.
Those in the free world stand behind those courageous people who have challenged the unjust limitations on freedom.
Yet, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, whose voices we will not hear today. Those individuals also long for freedom. They long for a freedom much more basic than those courageous democracy activists pushing for political and human rights.
They are trafficking victims who desire to escape a life of captivity, literally to throw off the chains that imprison them in a life of labor or sexual exploitation. These individuals have been kidnapped, lured away from their homes, or tricked into a life in which they are denied the freedom to move and live without fear of abuse, rape, or deprivation.
The 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report, released by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, describes the actions, and in some cases the lack of actions, of 150 governments to end the crime of human trafficking.
The report also brings attention to the many varieties of trafficking including child soldiering, forced labor, prostitution, domestic servitude, and child camel jockeying while urging a comprehensive, coordinated global response.
It is our hope that this report will provoke, laud, and challenge. The singular goal: to stimulate government action to protect vulnerable people.
The United States does not do this because we have erased this problem from our shores or because we have the golden key to unlock solutions to this heinous problem. Rather, as a government that stands for human freedom, we cannot remain silent on this affront to the most basic human freedoms. In fact, recognizing that there are trafficking victims in the United States, our government has mounted a coordinated effort to combat this scourge at home.
We naturally stand side-by-side in partnership with bold non-governmental activists in every part of the world, many of whom risk their lives for the freedom of others.
Our governmental partners have been equally committed. Whether it's Sweden and Korea working to curb demand for trafficking victims; Gabon and Guyana passing anti-trafficking laws; Canada producing prevention materials in 14 languages; or Japan starting legal reforms and victim-protection efforts, we are seeing progress on many fronts.
The United States is deeply committed to fulfilling its responsibilities as well in the fight against trafficking in persons. That's why, in addition to contributing more than $96 million abroad for anti-trafficking programs last year, we compile an annual report on what governments around the globe are doing to combat slavery.
In January, President George W. Bush said, "No one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave." Because of the stain of slavery on our own history, these words have special meaning to us. And they guide our efforts against trafficking in persons, based on our strong belief in freedom and human dignity.
Those countries and individuals who claim to support the human drive for freedom cannot be deaf to the calls of these silent victims. Each day that passes without accelerated action by governments, more people are deprived of freedom.
The United States stands ready to partner with anyone committed to seeing the end of this deplorable crime, one which we strive to banish to the pages of history books and to erase from the daily reality of a world in which freedom is on the march.
Paula J. Dobriansky is the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs
Released on June 29, 2005