Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
October 15, 2008
The President's $50 Million Initiative to Combat Trafficking in Persons: Initiative Highlights
In 2003, President George W. Bush announced a $50 Million Initiative to Combat Trafficking in Persons. Overall, projects support rescue, victim assistance services, vocational programs, campaigns against child sex tourism, and law enforcement task forces with greater emphasis on direct training for criminal justice professionals. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations, and government entities have used these funds to protect victims, prosecute traffickers, and increase public awareness of this crime—which threatens freedom, health, and national security. The examples below highlight the impact of certain projects under the President’s Initiative.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has worked to significantly reduce the recruitment of over 20,000 vulnerable workers into slave labor through its Trails to Liberty (Trilhas) project implemented in municipalities with the greatest incidence of forced labor or forced labor recruitment. CRS conducted extensive public awareness campaigns and assisted approximately 1,400 victims of forced labor by providing psychological, social, and legal support, in addition to employment and small business development training.
The Asia Foundation (TAF) provided direct services to 1,039 individuals in order to prevent them from being trafficked. After receiving scholarship awards, participants took part in an apprenticeship program and received job placement assistance. Out of the 80 percent placed in jobs, 20 percent received start-up capital to start their own businesses. Through advocacy, TAF and the NGO Hagar International helped strengthen Cambodia’s legal definition of trafficking. With funds from the President’s Initiative, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) provided return and reintegration assistance to victims of cross-border trafficking between Cambodia and Vietnam.
The International Labor Organization’s International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor is implementing a project focused on preventing hazardous child labor among migrant children. The project has provided residential schooling and vocational training programs to over 250 children in areas with high rates of migration. Also under the President’s Initiative, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) set up 37 cross-border vigilance groups along the Indo-Nepal border to monitor and prevent trafficking; one transit shelter home was also started at the border. To address sex-tourism in Goa, the Goa project for combating sex tourism focused on prevention training and raising awareness in the tourism industry, including hotels, airlines, and travel and tour operators.
Many victims of trafficking suffering from life threatening medical problems have been helped by IOM in Indonesia, funded by the President’s Initiative. Doctors, psychologists, and Police Hospital medical staff actively support the victims—such as a trafficked woman suffering from a forced hysterectomy, a victim with advanced-stage cancer who arrived bleeding profusely, and a victim’s baby born premature at 3.3 lbs. who is now in good health. By providing return, recovery, and reintegration assistance, IOM has coordinated with many levels of government and civil society to achieve results. Many of these entities are now mandated under Indonesia’s Anti-Trafficking Law to provide protection and support to victims of trafficking. IOM has been able to hand over activities to government and civil society while providing assistance to over 3,000 victims of human trafficking.
The Bilateral Safety Corridor Commission (BSCC) has addressed the public health implications of human trafficking in Mexico, providing information and assistance to over 3,000 at-risk individuals, especially regarding the intersection of human trafficking with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other illnesses. Another program called “Proteja,” or “Protect” in Spanish, provides technical assistance to organizations to coordinate services and shelter victims, and has trained over 10,000 representatives. At the Chihuahua-Texas-New Mexico border, this program supported a task force to promote better anti-TIP strategies on both sides of the border. Under the President’s Initiative, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement continues to work with Mexican federal law enforcement to increase the number of trafficking investigations. Through a return and reintegration program by IOM, networks are being developed throughout the country, including in Tapachula, Mexico City, and Cancun, to identify and assist victims of trafficking. IOM estimates that 90 percent of all victims identified, rescued, and assisted in Mexico since project implementation were assisted through the President’s Initiative.
Catholic Relief Services has implemented the Moldova Employment and Training Alliance (META), which has reduced trafficking by giving young Moldovan women opportunities for legitimate employment within their own country and by helping them learn how to build sustainable livelihoods. Each participant, aged 16-25, benefits from an integrated program of technical skills training, personal empowerment, and a guaranteed job. It has helped over 725 young, at-risk women. The program has also provided over 5,000 high school girls from more than 100 rural villages with training in sustainable livelihoods. By tackling trafficking on two-fronts—viable economic alternatives to going abroad and personal preparedness through life skills—META has contributed to the reduction of trafficking in concrete ways. Additionally, IOM carried out training and awareness raising activities with religious leaders of the Orthodox Churches.
With help from the President’s Initiative, over 560 women and 200 youth, including staff of collaborating NGOs, government ministries, and officers from the Army and Police, participated in training on trafficking in persons and sexual violence. Over 225 hours of radio broadcast material on trafficking was aired. Some 90 percent of women, after hearing the radio programs, refused to send their children away to urban relatives. Four local NGOs developed innovative education projects to reduce child labor and trafficking. The IOM program provided return and reintegration assistance to over 100 victims, including several children trafficked for ritual killings.
President’s Initiative activities have stressed attention to victims, involving a growing number of NGOs and reinforcing their expertise in victims’ care, while creating a much-needed link with government institutions and media. As a result of rescue and protection efforts, the lives of many children have changed, and several were able to reunify with their families. Seven trafficking in persons training programs had been conducted for over 200 participants. Scores of criminal justice professionals have been trained. The Tanzania Police Force (TPF) has expanded public awareness campaigns, utilizing trained instructors who speak on radio and television programs regarding the negative impact of human trafficking. The TPF was also able to begin strengthening ties with NGOs in order to assist victims of trafficking obtain temporary shelter and medical treatment. Increased awareness on the part of law enforcement has resulted in enhanced screening and victim assistance on the borders.