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 You are in: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs > Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons > Releases and Remarks > Reports
Pathbreaking Strategies in the Global Fight Against Sex Trafficking   -[PDF format]
Released by the Department of State, May 29, 2003
Held February 23-26, 2003, Washington, DC

Conference Recommendations

Letter from The White House
Washington 
February 20, 2003

I send greetings to those gathered for the international conference, “Pathbreaking Strategies in the Global Fight Against Sex Trafficking.”

Sex trafficking has devastating effects on victims, families, and communities. To protect the rights of human dignity, I have signed a Presidential Directive to advance my Administration’s efforts to fight these crimes and to hold accountable those who engage in them. While working at home and abroad to raise awareness and to provide crucial assistance to victims, America is committed to helping eliminate this and all forms of trafficking in persons.

I commend the event organizers and all those participating in this conference for your important efforts to prevent sex trafficking, support its victims, and prosecute its perpetrators. Your work helps to improve the quality of life for countless individuals in our Nation and around the world.

Laura joins me in sending our best wishes.

George Bush 


Conference Recommendations

The Department of State, in partnership with the non-governmental War Against Trafficking Alliance, hosted a conference on “Pathbreaking Strategies in the Global Fight Against Sex Trafficking” from February 23-26, 2003. The conference was designed to recognize activists from around the globe who had devised practical solutions to the problem. More than 400 American and international participants met to discuss the most successful strategies against sex trafficking and to suggest innovative methods to combat traffickers and rescue victims. Participants came from all walks of life and from more than 100 countries to share lessons they had learned and to find ways to further regional and international cooperation on the issue.

President George W. Bush sent a message to the conference stressing the United States government’s strong commitment to fighting this form of modern day slavery. U.S. dedication to the cause was underscored by the presence at the conference of Attorney General John Ashcroft, Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Claude Allen, USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios and Congressmen Frank Wolf and Chris Smith.

The conference was also honored to include keynote addresses from the Vice President of the Republic of Colombia, Francisco Santos Calderón, and the Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, Margareta Winberg.

Summaries of the recommendations made by the various conference workshops follow, as do the texts of the key presentations.

Recommendations of the Conference

The following recommendations summarize the many excellent ideas that were suggested by the conference participants. Those attending included government ministers, legislators, scholars, medical personnel, religious workers, jurists, victims, journalists, and representatives of NGOs, international organizations and government agencies. The opinions that were exchanged and debated over the course of the two and a half day conference reflected a wide range of experiences and operational viewpoints.

These recommendations have been synthesized and divided into three categories: Protection of the Victims; Prosecution of the Traffickers; and Prevention of Future Abuses. They were not endorsed by the conference as a whole nor do they necessarily represent the policies of the United States government. Instead, they reflect ideas that have worked for some, and hopefully will work for others, in the global fight against trafficking.

Protection of the Victims --Pass comprehensive national anti-trafficking laws that prosecute traffickers and provide for the safety and privacy of the victim, proper representation in court, access to medical care, social assistance, compensation for damages, and the right to seek and receive residency.

--Incorporate local customs and circumstances into anti-trafficking legislation.

--Enforce international conventions at the local level.

--Bring international pressure against nations that violate or exploit women and children by permitting forced marriages, marriages of widows to brothers of deceased husbands, genital mutilation and selling of children for future marriages.

--Develop a network and a local taskforce of all NGO, religious, law enforcement and government organizations to facilitate assistance to a victim when found. Expand network from destination countries to transit and source countries.

--Protect victims, even those not willing or able to leave their situations immediately.
Establish more halfway houses to provide adequate reintegration and counseling for returning victims. Establish deportation points to arrange for the victims’ safe travel and reception in the home county.

--Ask victims what they need; what might help them and help law enforcement.

--Recognize the importance of faith based organization (FBO) activities among the most marginalized and vulnerable. Encourage government/FBO cooperation.

--Work with immigration and border authorities to inspect suspicious trucks that transport children from place to place.

--Counsel exploited youth and provide special courts for handling child testimony, shelter and rehabilitation services. Support trafficked children, but return them to the mainstream as soon as possible. Child victims become lifetime victims without this support.

--Ensure that women and children in post-rescue situations are placed in homes or shelters that provide better living conditions than before their exploitation. Expand services beyond major cities.

--Allow grant-receiving organizations to use funds with some flexibility to assist victims in complicated trafficking situations.

--Establish better cooperation and planning between governments and NGOs through close communications and regular meetings.

--Examine closely international employment agencies and mail order bride and adoption businesses. Ensure their compliance with government regulations and shut down front companies.

--Publicly denounce corruption and maintain a consistent policy of governmental transparency in trafficking matters.

--Consider fingerprinting, photographing and acquiring personal data on a voluntary basis on youth who are traveling abroad.

--Create a private chat room behind a firewall to build a network of community organizers.

--Provide governments with concrete goals and suggestions instead of overly broad and general wishes that are difficult or impossible to implement.

--Use international organizations to transport and receive victims once they have been rescued.

--Pass legislation banning the use of children as camel jockeys.

--Establish contact points in source, transit and destination countries so that each country knows exactly whom to contact in emergencies.

--Consider financial support for employers who make it possible to successfully repatriate and reintegrate the victims.

--Issue an amnesty for illegal workers and offer repatriation assistance.

--Outlaw the holding of passports and other travel documents by employers of foreign workers.

Prosecution of Traffickers --Assign specially trained female officers to anti-trafficking in persons units and hot lines.

--Provide trafficking victims who serve as witnesses adequate safety, privacy, legal, social and economic assistance, and a right to residence in the prosecuting country.

--Review the prosecution process and streamline wherever possible.

--Utilize the influence and prestige of popular faith based organization (FBO) leaders to combat slavery, child labor and other forms of injustice. Networking among international branches of many FBOs has revealed important trends and movements of human trafficking that led to better-targeted programs.

--Use existing laws, as well as anti-trafficking legislation, to prosecute and punish traffickers and customers. For instance:

  • Strengthen slavery, forced labor, indentured servitude and peonage laws when these elements are easy to prove but trafficking is not.
  • Pass legislation punishing the customer. As appropriate, focus on statutory rape, sexual exploitation and other sex offenses -- not just prostitution. The other offenses are generally graver and more accurate in terms of offense and impose more severe penalties.
  • Charge administrative court fees to sex offenders of adult prostituted women for treatment programs and for health and other services for victims.
  • Order sex offenders to attend peer education programs.
  • Require profiteers of trafficking (including brothels, taxis, bathhouses, banks and money-transfer institutions) to financially compensate victims. Apply criminal and civil statutes and penalties.
--Set up national and local commissions composed of government officials, police and NGOs to develop policy guidelines for the investigation and prosecution of cases and for programs to protect victims.

--Create multi-disciplinary investigative teams comprising Ministries of Health, Labor, Finance, Interior, Border/Immigration, Child Protection, and service providing NGOs and utilize all applicable laws against traffickers.

--Use and update Interpol’s electronic database of sex trafficking convictions.

--Make hotlines available in every country to receive information on trafficking and corruption involving trafficking.

--In every district worldwide make a prosecutor available for contact by other law enforcement officials and NGOs.

--Investigate and subpoena records of Internet service providers whose customers transmit and receive pornographic materials involving minors.

--Develop a Judges Bench Book to include relevant international, national and local laws related to trafficking.

Prevention of Future Abuses --Strengthen individual country assessment reports.

--Pursue all means, formal and informal, to undertake cooperative measures bilaterally and multilaterally with regional and global partners.

--Adopt national plans of action for each country and harmonize the approaches into a regional multi-year anti-trafficking action plan focusing on regional cooperation.

--Organize regular action-based coordinating meetings that bring together all relevant regional governmental and non-governmental actors.

--Examine more closely policies of donor countries to strengthen the coherence, integration and reinforcing efforts of all of the anti-trafficking work undertaken.

--Continue to develop numerical data on all forms of trafficking in persons to formulate national policies regarding protection, prosecution and prevention requirements.

--Fund research that will directly assist practitioners.

--Conduct research on the demand side and develop adequate strategies to reduce demand for trafficked persons. Address these issues in the context of a culture of male privilege.

--Provide awareness training of young men on gender issues, training should be by peer group teaching from their experience including former victims when possible and appropriate.

--Review appropriateness of bank secrecy and privacy laws with respect to organized criminal groups and money laundering activities related to trafficking.

--Designate women as formal representatives at peace discussions in post-conflict situations and include them in the new governments. Known human rights abusers and organized criminals should not be part of government.

--Provide more micro-credit loans and educational opportunities for women to generate income, develop their abilities and serve as role models for at-risk boys and girls.

--Create community watch committees to monitor vulnerable families or those that have trafficked members before.

--Use international and regional fora to share trafficking information, pool resources and develop responses, including the Pueblo Process, the ECOWAS Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons and other encouraging bilateral initiatives.

--Negotiate bilateral and multilateral agreements that can be used to expand the limited interpretation of national laws regarding trafficking in persons.

--Issue tamper resistant documents that identify children from birth. States should also issue tamper resistant passports and other identity documents based upon secure issuance procedures.

--Enforce codes of sexual conduct upon employees of international organizations in conflict or post-conflict areas to reduce the demand for trafficked women. Provide appropriate training on anti-trafficking policies and practices.

--Extend extraterritorial jurisdiction of nations whose citizens commit crimes while deployed in peacekeeping or other international forces.

--Provide law enforcement personnel including border guards and jurists, consular officials and medical professionals, educators and journalists special training to include:

  • Identification of victims and their humane, sensitive treatment.
  • Broad application of trafficking and related laws.
  • Health issues, including HIV/AIDS, faced by trafficking victims and their families.
  • Ethical handling of news stories and proper care and safety of victims.
  • Connection of organized crime to illegal prostitution, illegal migration, labor and work exploitation.
  • Methods to improve cooperation between police, intelligence and social services.
  • Access to Interpol information on corruption, its police integrity survey, best practice guide, and key points of contact.
--Publicize prosecutions of traffickers to encourage local residents to identify other traffickers.

--Allow the free expression of religion. Faith based movements should include all forms of faith and should provide services to beneficiaries regardless of their religious backgrounds.

--Create independent E-mail groups of conference participants to share best practices and improve intra-national and international communications.

--Require governments and NGOs to embed mega tags that make windows appear on the monitors of their employees who look for sex-related sites. Appropriate admonishments would directly target the right audience.

--Raise public awareness of trafficking. For example:

  • Nine European airlines run in-flight videos about sex tourism and the criminal and social aspects of engaging in sex with minors.
  • Include journalists in government and NGO plans to fight trafficking.
  • Employ television and radio commentators, respected village elders and others to communicate the dangers of trafficking and how to get help in national languages and local dialects.
  • Theatrical groups and posters have been effective means of communication in certain countries. Actors can communicate the dangers of trafficking by highlighting experiences, sometimes as victims.
  • Advise travelers of conditions in countries of destination including potential dangers of trafficking and sex tourism.
  • Educate students of all age groups from primary to post-high school levels and reach out to their parents.
  • Videos of trafficked women and children telling their own stories have a strong impact.Regional Workshop Strategies

Regional Workshop 1: Eastern Europe to Western EuropeThis region has both one of the heaviest volumes of human trafficking and one of the most advanced responses to it. The demand for sexually exploited workers remains high, and criminal elements continue to operate without significant restraint in much of the region. However, recognition of the problem and regional and sub-regional cooperation in the fight against these practices is probably the highest of any area in the world. Most countries have adopted national legislation that recognizes trafficking as a distinct criminal activity. The aspiration of some countries to join the European Union (EU) has also served to encourage anti-trafficking initiatives that conform to EU standards. International organizations have taken on the issue throughout Europe. As a result of this comparatively advanced regional coordination, much of the workshop discussion centered on information exchange and national programs. In addition, however, the workshop participants recommended that states in the region:

--Use sub-regional task forces to address the various aspects of trafficking; these aid coordination and help avoid duplication of effort; one model is the SE Europe task force which meets twice yearly and includes both NGOs and national/representatives.

--Continue to focus on the root causes of sex trafficking, such as the need to reinforce basic concepts of human rights and to criminalize the actions of those who procure trafficked victims.

--Cut through the haze of vague statistics by developing better networks of information. A number of destination countries also complained about the inability to get documents from source countries.

--Increase NGO/governmental cooperation across the board, particularly on the issues of repatriation and victim assistance. Several good models (Spain, Switzerland) already exist on this.

--Make sure that national legislation is consistent with UN and other international standards.

--Address the question of responsibilities of transit countries.

--Make sure all attendees have copies of the conference participant list -- the awareness of who else in the world is working against human trafficking was one of the chief benefits of the conference.

--Follow up on the “Pathbreaking Strategies” conference by calling regular meetings of the participants under the auspices of the UN Working Group on Trafficking and Slavery.

Regional Workshop 2: Central Asia and Caucasus to the Near EastThe problem of human trafficking in this region has recently gained recognition. However, communications among regional states are at still in the initial phase and in many states little legal or governmental action has been taken to stem the practice. Denial is still widespread in governments and in the general population. One of the chief advantages of the workshop session was to introduce concerned officials and activists to each other and to give them a basic understanding of the measures either contemplated or being effected in the nations of the area. On a regional level they suggested Central Asia/Caucasus/Near East should:

--Harmonize legislation regarding human trafficking.

--Conduct awareness campaigns for the general population, both on the national and regional level.

--Strengthen cross-border controls.

--Increase the awareness of law enforcement officials about the trafficking problem, both in source and destination countries.

--Develop cooperative structures between law enforcement officials of source and destination countries.

--Organize a network of NGOs, government representatives and international officials to exchange information quickly and act effectively in unison in emergency cases.

Regional Workshop 3: West/South Africa to Western Europe/Near EastTrafficking out of Africa to other regions is widespread. Trans-continental arrangements for limiting it are only now beginning. Some progress has been made in the trafficking routes from West Africa to Western Europe and in a few cases international anti-trafficking instruments have been ratified. A few national laws that address trafficking exist in source countries, but these have not been conformed multilaterally. Only uneven regional efforts have been made to enforce the anti-trafficking legislation that does exist. Indeed some members of this group said it was the first time they had ever discussed regional cooperation or met colleagues from other parts of the region. They recommended that:

--Source countries intensify efforts to warn local communities of trafficking dangers.

--Care be taken to make information campaigns culturally sensitive, understanding that there is often a lack of sophisticated technology; that local people will carry the most credibility; that local chiefs and other leaders are essential to the support of anti-trafficking programs.

--Information campaigns should use the accounts of those with personal experience of trafficking to lend credibility to the message. Former victims or those who have worked with them are in the best position to spread the message.


--Local communities should begin to build networks with national governments to identify and track the progress of traffickers.

--Methods should be found to counter the poverty that aids traffickers and the advertisement of profits that attract others to the illegal operations.

--Local communities need to be warned of trafficking vulnerability in conflict situations.

--Nations should work together to ensure that repatriation is voluntary.

--Victims should be protected by allowing them to testify in camera and offering some form of language training or work permits after they are rescued.

--Counseling programs that rehabilitate the sanity and self-esteem of victims would benefit from coordination.

--Greater efforts within and among nations should be made to monitor adoption agencies.

--Harmonization of laws throughout the region should be made a high priority.

--Regional efforts should be made to confiscate traffickers’ assets and use them for victim compensation or for the fight against trafficking.

Regional Workshop 4: Internal Trafficking in AfricaRepresentatives of twenty-five countries participated in this workshop, which discussed human trafficking within Africa. Transnational cooperation in this region is at an early stage. Few legal structures exist within or between these nations that curtail trafficking. Cultural perceptions often work against those who fight trafficking. All agreed that more awareness was needed on a local level, that laws and practices needed to be conformed among nations and that governments and international institutions should focus on the economic and cultural root causes of vulnerability to trafficking. Specifically they suggested that affected nations:

--Wage aggressive awareness campaigns across the region at the village level. Respected local leaders and institutions, such as chiefs, schools and churches, should lead those campaigns.

--Recognize the special cultural value placed on the family in Africa; work through family links to teach children’s rights, address cases of dire poverty and use community pressure to prevent trafficking and identify traffickers.

--Operationalize national laws and international agreements that have been passed, but have not been put into effect. One critical need is to inform and train law enforcement officials in the region about these agreements and to translate legal instruments or international policies into direct orders for those who must carry them out.

--Further the implementation of existing laws and norms by training law enforcement personnel in statutes as well as in how to recognize and intercept trafficking when it is encountered. Regional workshops on this issue might be held in border areas.

--Promote African regional agreements that harmonize trafficking laws and tighten border cooperation. Establish norms for dealing with victims, or families and local communities that may be accomplices.

--Work as a region to establish standards for the treatment and return of abductees in conflict situations. Current UN conventions and other international agreements do not properly address these situations.

--Establish zero tolerance policies for corruption. Make examples of corrupt police officers and other government officials who facilitate trafficking.

--Create reception, monitoring and counseling facilities to assist victims in all countries. If possible, create links between them.

--Encourage developed countries to think in terms of micro-level needs when they consider aid and development packages. This is the most effective way to address the situation of poor and rural families and thereby prevent trafficking.

Regional Workshop 5: Asia to North AmericaIt has been reported that Southeast Asia is the largest source for trafficked persons in the world. Internal legislation and controls are uneven and little regional coordination has been attempted. This workshop chose to look at the “traffic pattern” in the region from both directions: those trafficked to North America from Asia and the “consumers” from North America and from within Asia who use trafficking victims in the region. To fight trafficking and make progress on regional cooperation, the group recommended that states:

--Create a Southeast Asia “e-group” to share human trafficking information.

--Hold a follow-on conference for Asia/North America, the goal of which would be to elaborate a strategy of regional interaction on trafficking.

--Encourage developed countries to assist vulnerable countries (e.g. Fiji) where the problems of sex tourism and commercial exploitation of children have not taken root and help them take early defensive measures.

--Make the protection of Muslim women a high regional priority since they are particularly at risk.

--Negotiate a region-wide agreement to criminalize or regulate “mail order bride” businesses, perhaps along the lines of laws in the Philippines.

--Encourage the U.S. government to strengthen its legal mechanisms against trafficking:

  • by amending sex tourism and pedophilia laws to remove the necessity to prove intent before the perpetrator goes abroad--committing the act should be the crime;
  • by creating a system of federal penalties for states that do not criminalize trafficking or which fail to provide assistance to victims; and
  • by improving the systems to track visa petitioners in order to thwart serial and phony marriage applicants.
--Determine who is financially profiting from trafficking so that after prosecution costs of caring for the victims could be passed directly to them.

--Convince the U.S. military authorities to train personnel on human trafficking and increase prosecution and penalties for those engaging the services of trafficking victims.

--Engage a famous personality to speak out on trafficking as a public service.

Regional Workshop 6: Latin America to North America The nations of Western Hemisphere have taken initial steps in recent years to combat human trafficking and to promote region-wide cooperation on the issue. The intensity of these programs varies from country to country. Some countries have already developed laws and action plans that have had some success in preventing sexual exploitation of victims and prosecuting traffickers. Transnational agreements such as the Inter-American Convention on International Traffic in Minors, the Inter-American Convention on Extradition and Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters have already been agreed and ratified by many states. To build on this progress, workshop participants suggested that the region:

--Continue efforts have human trafficking recognized as an intra and inter-regional problem.

--Use NAFTA, PARLACEN, the Regional Conference on Migration and the South American Conference on Migration to push for action.

--Establish a regional network to exchange best practices.

--Find ways to address the demand side of the problem, especially as it affects children.

--Increase the number of female police officers and establish training programs for them.

--Find effective ways to train defense attorneys.

--Create a regional network (between source and destination countries) to help identify/locate victims.

--Work to conform and standardize legislation in the region, including strong penalties for traffickers.

--Create a database of information on traffickers.

--Expand and coordinate public education programs in schools and universities.

--Increase efforts with tourism ministries and hotels to prevent sex tourism.

--Encourage source countries that levy a tourist tax to re-invest those revenues into programs to prevent sex tourism.

Note: Since the conference the participants in this workshop have established a listserv for information exchange entitled “No Se Trata”.

Regional Workshop 7: Europe to North AmericaNorth America is a destination area for people trafficked from Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, Russia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania. Some of these countries have specific laws or a provision within the criminal code that criminalizes trafficking in persons, and some international organizations in Europe have sought to abolish the practice. Only rudimentary steps have currently been taken, however, to coordinate efforts throughout the Euro-Atlantic community. As a result, participants concluded that the strategy between Europe and North America should be one of forming relationships and strengthening ties between governments and NGOs on the issue. Specifically the group suggested that the region:

--Follow up on contacts made during the “Pathbreaking Strategies” international conference.

--Increase training opportunities in all parts of the region, including the USA, especially the creation of regional law enforcement seminars that would focus on transnational organized crime and the prosecution of traffickers.

--Expand opportunities for visits abroad by parliamentarians, U.S. legislators, NGOs, prosecutors and law enforcement officials, so that they can increase their knowledge of the problem from all angles.

--Increase investigation into interrelated industries such as escort services, Internet pornography, mail-order bride businesses, etc. that form linkages to trafficking. Monitoring of the sex industry itself often leads to the identification of traffickers or the ability to prosecute using obscenity or other laws already on the books. Share this information between governments and with law enforcement bodies across the region.

--Coordinate education campaigns that reach school-age children. These might include presentations by former victims, which have a high impact. They might also include awareness programs for boys, both to prevent their own trafficking, and to help change attitudes towards gender violence.

--Expand the base of knowledge by increasing NGO participation in the development of anti-trafficking actions, including involving NGOs in the prosecution process. This would also augment the capacity and reputation of the NGOs.

--Develop a list of accredited NGOs in the field of counter-trafficking so that trafficked individuals and concerned agencies know which NGOs are credible and viable partners.

--Invite journalists to human trafficking-related events to build a corps of well-informed media that does not rely on rumor or sensationalism to create stories. The better the publicity, the more awareness of the threat, and the more danger to the traffickers.

--Establish clear methods to share information across the region about development of new legislation.

--Harmonize legislation on victim protection across concerned countries.

--Create an independent rapporteur or ombudsman who would monitor the extent of human trafficking in the region and the efforts to contain it. The rapporteur would take a regional approach to addressing the problem and would report to the parliaments of the various countries involved.

Regional Workshop 8: Trafficking within East Asia

--Formulate national plans that incorporate NGOs, government officials and all other counter-trafficking players. These should eventually be linked together to form a regional plan.

--Focus on the implementation of counter-trafficking laws in the region. Where they exist they are not fully exercised.

--Devise immigration laws that are sensitive to the victim and that aim to reduce vulnerability

--Ensure that Burma is not isolated from regional efforts.

--Normalize procedures in the region for returning victims. Thailand is pioneering the use of MOUs with border countries to achieve this.

--Where political considerations make formal MOUs difficult to agree, accept informal agreements among border officials that promote cooperation and aid the victims.

--Encourage donor countries to de-link political issues from counter-trafficking assistance.

Regional Workshop 9: Within South AsiaThere is increasing recognition that trafficking within this region (India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives, Bhutan) is a severe problem. Governments within the area have begun to take steps to coordinate among themselves and the conference was an important opportunity to for them to reinforce these efforts and to meet key contacts in neighboring states. The SAARC Convention on Trafficking in Women and Children has been an important breakthrough, and has been signed by every nation in the region except Afghanistan. The workshop recognized the need to build on this step, both on a regional and national level. The group recommended that the states of South Asia:

--Ratify the SAARC convention as soon as possible.

--Step up efforts to raise awareness among vulnerable populations throughout the region:

  • by sensitizing professional groups--lawyers, social workers, teachers, doctors, etc.--to the constructive role they can play in fighting human trafficking;
  • by increasing the number of arrests of customers, including foreign tourists engaged in sex tourism, and publicizing their names;
  • by giving widespread media coverage, including publicizing names, to the prosecution and conviction of traffickers or complicit officials.

--Unify efforts to establish formal procedures for providing victims with temporary residency.

--Encourage each nation to improve victim assistance, including better medical and psychological care. Protection should offer the opportunity to testify against the traffickers. Establishment of a “victim advocate” program would help victims by offering a guide and advisor throughout court procedures.

--Pass extradition treaties between and among regional states as soon as possible.

--Advise nations of the region to pass laws that make rape an automatic part of trafficking charges and that define trafficking as part of organized crime, thus increasing the penalties.

--Encourage nations to draft legislation that makes trafficking a no-bail offense and that allows for the confiscation of assets/profits of traffickers.

--Use monies confiscated from traffickers to reward law enforcement officials who are successful in pursuit of traffickers.

--Increase efforts to train judges and law enforcement officials at all other levels. Take steps to encourage supervisors to stress the importance of the fight against trafficking and to take punitive actions against any official in collusion with traffickers.

Regional Workshop 10: South Asia to the Near EastSouth Asians are trafficked into the Near East for sexual exploitation, forced labor and as camel jockeys. The numbers are thought to be in the millions. Most of the countries in the region do not have anti-trafficking legislation, or means to protect the victims. The trafficking problem in this region is newly recognized, and participants noted that few steps to stem trafficking had been taken on a regional level. In addition, there was recognition that most countries still needed to take action on a national basis. The group suggested that the countries in the region:

--Enhance data collection and comprehensive research and share this widely with neighboring countries.

--Hold regular “networking” workshops and orientation seminars between source and destination countries.

--Review existing laws related to trafficking in each country; ensure that they are in conformance with international and regional agreements; monitor to ensure that are being properly implemented.

--Establish contact points in source and destination countries so that each country knows exactly whom to contact on this issue.

--Strengthen and conform document controls within the region.

--Distribute information through hot lines and shelters at major travel entry points and border areas, for example at airports and in bus and train stations.

--Strengthen training for law enforcement personnel to include information on regional problems, the criminal networks engaged in trafficking and their patterns of operation.

--Produce a regional agreement banning the employment of children as camel jockeys in those countries with a tradition of the sport.

--Improve conditions for foreign workers:

  • by developing a manual for foreign workers which would outline their rights and obligations and tell them where to seek assistance which could be distributed through embassies;
  • by establishing information desks for foreign workers at travel entry points;
  • by licensing companies that procure foreign laborers;
  • by outlawing the retention of passports by employers of foreign workers; and
  • by issuing an amnesty for illegal workers and offering repatriation assistance.
In addition, individual countries were encouraged to:

--Establish trafficking cells within their passport offices and police units.

--Enhance prevention through community outreach (including in the foreign worker community) and information sharing programs.

--Strengthen protective measures for victims, especially the development of shelter homes and legal remedies, including mediation.

--Ensure that law enforcement officers are equipped with the best technology to enhance communications and information gathering.

--Make a concerted effort to treat trafficking victims as victims, not as criminals and ensure that they have a right to legal services, safety and compensation.


Texts of Keynote Speeches

Good evening. Thank you for coming. It is an honor to be able to speak to such a distinguished group and to open this conference.

You are an amazing group of people. This room is filled with pathbreaking activists, lawmakers, health care providers, policy makers, law enforcement officials, among others. We hail from more than 120 countries from every continent except Antarctica. While our lives and backgrounds differ significantly, we share one crucial, common goal: that is our unwavering commitment to eradicating what is one of the most unthinkable abuses and crimes that exists today -- trafficking in persons.

Many of you see on a daily basis the lives shattered by the heinous exploitation of innocent people by sex traffickers. Countless men, women, and children are subjected to torture and abuse that we can’t even imagine. People seeking a better life are forced or tricked into exploitation, abuse, and cruelty -- often with little hope of escaping such situations. Too many criminals driven by greed are all too willing to disregard human life to turn a profit, all too willing to treat humans like a lifeless commodity.

And our work -- whether through protecting victims, prosecuting traffickers, or preventing future trafficking -- presents an opportunity to rescue those already trapped in this life of agony and to avert countless other abuses.

As we were preparing for the conference and I read about many of you and your work, I was heartened at your dedication, sacrifice, and accomplishments. It renewed my hope that we will eradicate this scourge that has no place in a world where we have the ability and responsibility to protect each human life from such abuse.

These next several days present us with a unique opportunity -- a chance to gather you -- many of the world experts, indeed the doers, to map out a course, to create a “tool box” for working more closely together to end trafficking in persons. Our combined effort can and will have a multiplier effect if we seize this moment, this opportunity. We need to ask the tough questions.

How can we build bridges between our regions -- more effective bridges than the traffickers whose evil efforts know no borders? How can we make sure that a victim rescued on one side of the world can return safely and be integrated back into their society on the other side, safe with the knowledge that their abusers will be behind bars and that they have a chance to rebuild their lives?

How can we forge closer ties among law enforcement, service providers, civil and religious leaders, and lawmakers to ensure that we are maximizing our pressure? Too often institutional or cultural gaps exist between our various sectors. We share a common goal; we must share a common strategy. Existing divisions can help no one except the traffickers. We must work to be strongly unified and get rid of all divisions.

How can we stop the cycle before it even starts? How can we educate our young people, vulnerable groups, about the evil that lurks behind the empty promises traffickers use? How can we get legitimate businesses to ensure they do not become fronts for traffickers, that our citizens seeking employment abroad know what awaits them, that our citizens vacationing abroad know we will not allow them -- knowingly or not -- to be party to the exploitation of others?

These are just a few of the questions we should tackle over the next several days. We have intentionally structured the conference to give maximum time for dialogue, for grappling with tough questions, and thinking about concrete suggestions for what we should be doing.

The desired outcome is not a lengthy paper or declaration, but rather a short concise document summarizing your suggestions or a blueprint for action. Over the next 2 days, our discussions will be off-the-record because we want to have the most open, frank discussion possible. We want the outcome to provide activists throughout the world with a list of best practices and ideas that will bolster their work. We seek a multiplier effect worldwide.

It is those of you gathered here that will turn their hard work into the thinking and action that can and must make a difference in the lives of many people in desperate need of our help.

Have a good time this evening. Over the next 2 days, I hope you have an opportunity to enjoy yourself, challenge each other, and think about how we can best help each other eradicate what constitutes a tragedy of the 21st century -- trafficking in persons. Thank you for your commitment and for joining us here.


The Honorable Frank Wolf
U.S. House of Representatives

It is my honor and privilege to welcome all of you today to this international conference on the global fight against sex trafficking.

I am struck by the diversity I see from the participants who have come from all over the world. You have come from every continent on the globe. You have come from different backgrounds, from different cultures.

Yet you have come with the singular purpose of sharing your ideas and expertise and solutions for prevention and prosecution of trafficking and protection of its victims.

We are all here to listen and learn from each other as we work in the fight against trafficking. We are all in this struggle together.

With unity of purpose there can come the power to fight the forces in the world that continue to exist that seek to dominate, abuse and exploit the human spirit.

These forces have been present since the early days of humanity. The forms have changed, but the substance has stayed the same -- the exploitation of human beings for personal gain.

Throughout the ages, a courageous few have taken up the mantle and led the fight against this exploitation in its many guises. Today you are here to carry on that fight and to help teach and inspire others to take up that mantle.

The United States of America is committed to the eradication of sex trafficking, which is the modern-day form of slavery. As a member of Congress, I have joined with my colleagues who are dedicated to this cause and who supported the legislation that brought together the Department of State in partnership with the War Against Trafficking Alliance to sponsor this world summit.

I want to call to your attention my congressional colleagues Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas and Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, and the late Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, who led the way in passing the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.

I also want to single out my former colleague in Congress, Linda Smith, who now heads the nonprofit organization, Shared Hope International, and was the key force behind this idea for this conference. She is dedicated to aiding those who have been victims of this horrible crime.

As I reflect on the privilege and challenge of serving in public office, I also am reminded of the responsibility that brings to help those around the world who are oppressed or persecuted or enslaved or without a voice.

In our fight against trafficking of persons in this 21st century, we can be inspired to carry on this fight by those who have gone before.

I am struck by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who led the fight against the discrimination of African Americans here in the U.S. He said, “In the end we will remember, not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Throughout our history, America has been a friend of the persecuted and the suffering.

That is why Dr. King’s statement is so poignant. In times of trouble, the silence of an enemy is expected, but the silence of a friend is devastating.

I also must mention William Wilberforce, a Member of the British Parliament, a man who has inspired me, who led the successful campaign to abolish the slave trade in England in the early 19th century.

And now all of you here continue this legacy, in a battle similar to Wilberforce, against the sexual trafficking and enslavement of people.

You know the numbers, and the scale of the suffering is staggering. Each year, 700,000 up to 4 million people are trafficked worldwide and an estimated 50,000 people here in the U.S.

Despite all of our technological and political progress, an alarming number of people, mostly women and children, are being sexually abused and forced into slavery.

Around the world, including the United States, innocent women and children are misled or forced to move across borders, to live in a foreign country, utterly alone and away from family, friends and any kind of support network, where they are forced into the sex trade.

All of you who fight against sexual trafficking every day know much, much better than I how the lives of innocent young women and children are viciously stolen. The victims are left with wounds and scars that may never heal, and in many cases are exposed to sexually transmitted diseases and the deadly HIV/AIDS virus.

Truly, this is one of the most evil practices occurring in the world today. The places where they are taken and the things they are forced to do are among the darkest imaginable.

I believe that America’s greatest contribution to the world is the founding principle: “that all...are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

The Old Testament book of Proverbs says, “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering towards slaughter.”

The Bible is clear that all people have an obligation to care for, alleviate, and seek justice for the suffering.

To underscore America’s commitment in the global fight against trafficking, there are provisions in the recently enacted omnibus-spending bill calling for increased coordination among the executive branch agencies of the U.S. government and within the Department of State with respect to the implementation of the Trafficking Victims Prevention Act.

That new law also calls for the establishment of a Senior Policy Operating Group, chaired by the director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking.

He will have enhanced responsibility to help coordinate anti-trafficking programs administered by the U.S. government and also provide the committees and others in Congress a central point to obtain information.

As I mentioned, Linda Smith deserves tremendous credit for the idea behind this conference. It is very appropriate that the organization she heads is called Shared Hope International. There is indeed hope today in the area of trafficking of persons.

Many of you have come to Washington, DC, to share your successes in this fight against trafficking.

It is encouraging that some countries that have the worst problems with trafficking are responding positively to the pressure that has been put on them by being listed in the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report.

Thanks to the work of the State Department’s Trafficking Office, and to the hard work of NGO’s and law enforcement officials like many of you here today from around the world, some countries are getting the message and beginning to take action to stop the horrible sex slavery occurring within their borders.

There is hope and there is a strong effort being made by this Administration and by the U.S. Congress and by your countries to combat the scourge of sexual trafficking.

Is it enough? No.

Can we do more? Yes.

With the international community united and working together, we can enact tougher laws on trafficking and enforce those laws.

Where countries have been culturally tolerant of sexual trafficking, we need governments and NGO’s to speak out and to raise the public outcry against sexual trafficking.

We also need journalists to write about this issue and bring to the attention of the world these heinous acts.

We need to continue to make it clear that the countries that have the worst records on trafficking need to change and that sex slavery will not be tolerated by the international community.

In his acceptance speech, 1986 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel explained that he “swore never to be silent whenever wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.”

“We must take sides,” he said. “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must -- at that moment -- become the center of the universe.”

What a powerful statement. Silence never helps the victim, only the victimizer. Silence actually encourages the wrongdoers to continue their acts of violence and abuse.

The late Senator Robert F. Kennedy in a speech in South Africa spoke about the danger of timidity in the context of having the courage to speak out for the oppressed. He said:

“Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a more rare commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change…. Aristotle tells us that ‘At the Olympic games it is not the finest and the strongest men who are crowned, but they who enter the lists.... So too in the life of the honorable and the good it is they who act rightly who win the prize.’ I believe that in this generation those with the courage to enter the moral conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the world.”

Know that we in the United States are behind you and will continue to seek ways to help you fight this battle. We will continue to work with the State Department, the Justice Department and the Administration to find better and more effective ways to put an end to an abuse that preys on the innocent and the vulnerable.

And so I thank all of you for coming to this conference. For your hard work on behalf of the innocent and vulnerable. For standing with the oppressed who see no way out of their horrible situation. For sometimes standing alone. And most importantly for your courage. You are making a difference.

The Old Testament book of Isaiah 58:10 says, “And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

As you speak out and continue to work on this important issue, your words and actions can be a light for the persecuted and enslaved that are today suffering so much.

Thank you for all that you are doing in these trying and challenging times. I appreciate your leadership and service around the world.

 
His Excellency Francisco Santos Calderón
Vice President of Colombia

Enslavement in the XXI Century

A few days ago, we heard on the radio in Colombia, the story of a 19-year-old woman from Cali, who accepted an offer to work as a prostitute in Japan. It was a last resource to obtain some income for the support of her 3-year-old son and her husband. Instead, she fell in the hands of a sinister criminal organization that forced her to serve an average of thirty clients daily. During the four moths she spent there, before she could escape, she was unable to save any money, and was cruelly forced by her captors to pay for her travel and daily expenses.

We also heard of the story of a 22-year-old woman who decided to interrupt her engineering studies to accept a newspaper classified ad job offer with a multinational company based in Germany. Believing she had found a great opportunity, she found herself working as a slave in a quarry mine in Romania, from which it took her two years to escape.

Stories like these, and even worse, happen every day in Colombia and in many other countries affected by the illegal trafficking of persons. This is nothing less than a modern version of slavery. The slavery of human beings of different ages by means of deceit, resulting in exploitation and alienation.

Every year, more than 700,000 women, men and children are victims of illegal trafficking in the world. It is an expanding practice producing enormous amounts of money. According to the International Organization for Migration, this ominous trafficking moves about 7,000 billion dollars a year just in Europe.

As you know, the victims of this trafficking are usually weak, defenseless persons who are used for sexual exploitation, forced labor, illicit trade, for the establishment of forced family relations, and even for the trading of organs and tissues.

The criminal networks that operate this human trafficking have made it the third most profitable illegal activity -- after illegal trafficking in narcotics and weapons.

The magnitude of this problem and its devastating consequences underlines the importance and opportunity of the initiative by Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, Ms. Paula Dobriansky, to promote the analysis and study of the different aspects of human trafficking, including population issues, migrations, labor exploitation, trade and criminal issues. This meeting will also provide new impetus for solutions to this problem, coming both from governments and society.

We have to turn the time we live in into one of solutions, because, so far, practices such as the trafficking of women and children for the purposes of forcing them into prostitution, medicine, forced labor or slavery occur without significant penalties for the traffickers or its consumers.

This largely occurs because of the power of intimidation these criminal organizations have to inflict fear in those who have the courage to denounce these practices. In addition, these criminal organizations use sophisticated methods to recruit their victims and force them into doing the jobs they want. They are highly dangerous, and devote large amounts of money to these inhuman, cruel, degrading transactions.

Undoubtedly, in today’s world the globalization of the economy has also brought about the globalization of crime. This is why governments, as well as international organizations and concerned individuals, have an obligation to join efforts to eradicate these practices forever.

There are adequate legal instruments to this effect. For example, on October 28, 2000, President George W. Bush signed into law the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, which encompasses a set of tools to go after the traffickers, provides protection for the victims of trafficking, increases sentences for traffickers, and calls upon states to provide a greater commitment to fight this type of crime.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Codes established that slavery and enforced prostitution are crimes against humanity “when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack”. It defined "enslavement" as the exercise of any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership over a person and includes the exercise of such power in the course of trafficking in persons, in particular women and children.

This crime is similar to illegal narcotics trafficking in as much as there is no available tool to fight against it that is as efficient as increased cooperation between governments, through coordinated, innovative, and courageous actions. This, of course, includes greater surveillance and control within our borders, coordinated police action, and continued, actual tracking of the money that traffickers move using the international banking system. This includes all means of transfers, such as currency exchange agencies, insurance companies, financing agencies, non-profit organizations, and all the existing financial possibilities that operate with the compliance of the banking laws in the so called “tax havens”.

Together with Brazil and the Dominican Republic, Colombia is one of the three countries most affected by human trafficking in the Western hemisphere. Young, working women are the most vulnerable segment of our population. Every year, about 50,000 Colombian women are taken out of Colombia to Asia and Europe for prostitution.

This fact has a lot to do with our own social and economic problems: Unemployment, armed conflict, family violence and impoverishment of the population. Thousands of fellow Colombians in search of a better future become, unknowingly, easy prey for these criminal organizations.

Nonetheless, in addition to being a victim of trafficking in persons, Colombia is also one of the leading countries combating this crime. The U.S. Department of State in its Trafficking in Persons Report certifies that in spite of our very limited economic and institutional resources and an inefficient judicial system, Colombia meets the standards to combat trafficking in persons.

In 1996, the Office of the President of Colombia created an inter-agency Committee to fight against trafficking in persons, especially, trafficking in women and children, which brings together several cabinet offices and all of the organizations concerned with this problem.

Since then, we have concentrated on those areas of the country which we have detected are most vulnerable to trafficking in persons. We have created strategies to identify and address this problem, while creating an institutional fabric, with a view to keeping in place actions for assistance and prevention.

Under the coordination of this committee, preventative activities, such as awareness campaigns for the general public and the authorities, are constantly implemented. The Office of the Attorney General keeps a detailed record of the cases of trafficking in persons, and it provides training to its staff on the processing of evidence and the scientific and technical management of judicial cases. Our internal security agency -- DAS -- has put a system in place for the exchange of intelligence information about criminal networks responsible for trafficking in persons for the purposes of labor or sexual exploitation. This system has the international support of INTERPOL. DAS also has a hotline to receive complaints relating to this crime.


Our National Police has extensive experience with the modus operandi of these criminal organizations from the work of the Humanitas Group of the Criminal Investigation Unit. This unit constantly monitors newspaper ads, discos, education institutions, dating agencies, casinos, and other activities and places where traffickers might find an opportunity to carry out their illegal activities.

Also, under the coordination of this committee, a Social Network has been put in place for the prevention of trafficking in persons with the purposes of sexual exploitation in the most vulnerable areas of the country. Presently Colombia has eleven Houses of Justice that operate with resources of international cooperation. With the leadership of NGOs, a series of prevention campaigns aimed at the educational community are carried out for the purpose of creating public awareness on different methods used by organized crime to force or induce persons into their trade.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides assistance to Colombian nationals who have been victims of trafficking in persons in a foreign country. Our consulates have attorneys and social workers that assist victims. They intervene for their human rights, including due process, non-discrimination and right of defense, among others.

The committee, in its capacity as government policy advisor, has also promoted the ratification of international conventions concerning trafficking in human beings, such as the 1949 Hague Convention on the Trafficking of Persons and the 1980 Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, as well as the passing of Law 470 of 1988, by which Colombia Ratified the Convention on International Trafficking in Minors.

Colombia participated actively in all stages leading up to the adoption of the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and additional Protocols. In addition, Colombia was one of the first states to subscribe to the Convention and the additional Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.

As important as it is to observe these international conventions, it is also essential to have the internal legal tools to confront the problem. According to the international law and observing our international obligations, we achieved great advancement by penalizing the trafficking in persons in our Criminal Code of the year 2000. In the year 2002, Congress passed Law 747 that goes after the illicit enrichment of persons and asset laundering connected to trafficking in persons. This law punishes both the trafficking in migrating persons as well as the trafficking in persons. It also makes these crimes as punishable as narcotics trafficking, arms trafficking, extortion, kidnapping, and illicit enrichment. It is established in the law that a 6-15 prison sentence and a fine of between six thousand and six million dollars will be given to whomever acquires, keeps, invests in, transports, transforms, or administers assets which are the direct result of trafficking in migrating persons or trafficking in persons. Also subject to this law are those who act as figureheads for the hiding of such assets.

In general, I would like to underline the consistency between our legal system and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, additional to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.

Considering the magnitude and complexity of trafficking in persons, from our own perspective I would suggest that the best way to confront it is through the active teamwork of civil society groups, governments and the international community. In Colombia, important organizations have been created such as Fundación Esperanza. They promote mechanisms to fight trafficking in persons and provide help to the victims.

As a direct result of this interaction, we have designed and implemented several strategies, such as making our consular officials more aware and attentive to this problem, and allowing them to assist victims of this heinous crime. Moreover, in many instances this consular participation has prevented victims from being indicted due to their illegal immigration status.

Additionally, we have been educating government officials at all levels of the administration and NGO members of the characteristics of this crime. The international airport of Bogotá is the main port of entry and departure of Colombians that could be victims of trafficking in persons. That’s why we have designed a strategy to be implemented there as a last chance to prevent our people from being victimized.

Fundación Esperanza tries to identify potential victims and distributes information about this crime, the organizations that benefit from it and the rights that people have according to the country they are heading to. This foundation also works with victims holding fake documents to try to capture the traffickers instead of sending behind bars victims who were forced to use these documents. This early warnings have worked very well.

Also, the presence in the airport has been an equally important opportunity to offer care and assistance to victims who are returning to Colombia. From there, they are remitted to tailor-made programs.

The U.S. State Department considers that Colombia is on level one among all the countries of the Americas in confronting the trafficking in persons, based on these measures and strategies.

The Administration of President Uribe is committed to strengthening these measures and efforts to be more efficient in providing assistance and protection to the victims of this crime, increasing the participation of the official and non-governmental institutions, the education sector and the solidarity of the Colombian people.

Notwithstanding these efforts, we are still a country deeply affected by this international crime. We have more than 50,000 Colombians that have been victimized. We still have a lot of serious work to do. Let me illustrate this point: A few months ago a Spanish journalist who lived in our country for five years wrote an article for the El Mundo newspaper in Madrid about how the women of a region in Colombia are deceived and forced to work as prostitutes. There was a huge debate in the country on the adjective that she used for her article, but not on the problem itself.

The countries of origin and destination and their politicians -- and sometimes the societies themselves--are ashamed of having this problem. That is why in some cases they try either to hide it or ignore it.

Allow me to conclude my remarks by commending the sensibility, responsibility and commitment of this initiative by Undersecretary Dobriansky. It’s clearly unacceptable that in this age of modern technology and rapid communications, criminals who run these enterprises dedicated to trafficking in persons continue to operate in some of the most developed countries of the world. We have to corner them and close down all their possibilities. I think that’s the most important goal and commitment of this meeting for each of our countries.


Her Excellency Margareta Winberg
Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen
,

This is a very interesting conference on a pressing subject at a time when the trafficking in women and children for sexual exploitation almost has the same staggering turnover as the drugs or arms trade.

It is particularly interesting for me to participate as the Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden -- a country that, since the 1940s, has persistently worked to improve the condition of women through various reforms and measures. We have done this by working on gender equality issues over the decades. We are now actively pursuing a specifically feminist analysis and approach to gender inequalities.

Yes, you heard me correctly. Sweden has a feminist government and every one of our ministers, including the Prime Minister, is currently receiving training to enable them to implement feminist policies in all areas -- taxation, communications, public transportation, and so on.

We, the members of the Swedish Government, have pledged, before each decision is taken, to ask the question "in what way will this affect women, and in what way will it affect men?” We intend, quite simply, with gender mainstreaming as our method, to change the power structures that bind and restrict us to traditional gender power relations and therefore limit our opportunities as women and as men.

Naturally this commitment is binding, and it imposes considerable requirements on us as decision-makers, but we are convinced that this is the only way to achieve the desired changes. The goal is that every individual should be given opportunities in life based on their wishes, aims and knowledge -- but not on their sex.

Before coming here, I asked myself, what do all countries being here have in common in the area we will be discussing these days -- that is the trafficking in women? Why are we taking part on the same platform and hopefully reaching the same conclusions in the fight against sex trafficking?

Even if we may have different perspectives on how to deal with women’s issues, we share the same sense of urgency that we have to fight the indignity of trafficking in human beings. In recent years we have made a high priority of the work against trafficking in women in Sweden as well as in our Nordic region.

It is obvious to us that there is a very clear link between prostitution and trafficking. Without prostitution there would be no trafficking in women.

So what is prostitution? According to our Swedish definition, prostitution is a form -- a serious form -- of male violence against women. Many men see it as their “natural” right to be able, in return for payment, to exploit women and children, mostly girls, for their own pleasure. Some do it secretly, others openly brag about it and are not at all ashamed of their actions

One Swedish man said in a radio interview, one morning after having heard me speak about our efforts to combat prostitution and trafficking: "It's natural, when my friend and I visit Thailand where we eat well and drink well, that we also want a woman -- afterwards."

Far too many men, in Sweden and in the rest of the world, see women as objects, as something that can be bought and sold. If they, the men, feel like doing it….

The international prostitution debate has tended, for very good reasons, to focus on the women, who, for one reason or another have been drawn into prostitution. Today, however, we can see where the true problem lies -- it lies with the buyers, the customers, and the men.

Unless we dare to get to the heart of the problem, we will never be able to solve it. We would merely be curing the symptoms, that is, "taking care of" the victims, the women. Which would mean that men could continue to exploit women and children.

These are the reasons for our unique legislation that prohibits the purchase of sexual services. According to Swedish law, it is no longer permitted to buy another human being for prostitution purposes.

A woman's body is not the same as a glass of brandy or an ice cream after a good dinner. And there is a difference between shoelaces and girls' bodies. Brandy, ice cream and shoelaces are inanimate objects. Women and girls are something else, they are human beings and therefore they are not for sale!

This is why we, as the only country in the world so far, have criminalized the buying of human beings for sexual purposes. We have clearly recognized that women and girls are not commodities and that the men who treat them as such should be criminalized. We are working to encourage other countries to follow our example.

It is the purchasers, that is, most often the men, who are committing a criminal act. According to our point of view, the women -- the prostituted women -- should not be regarded as criminals. Their actions are viewed from a social perspective. They should be offered education opportunities, health care if necessary, and support allowing them to lead a life with a job that allows them to make an adequate living without having to be sexually exploited.

Prostitution is one of the most serious expressions of the oppression and discrimination of women, largely upheld by the economic and social structures of society. These structures are global, although they are admittedly stronger in some countries and in some social environments. Women and men are confronted with these structures constantly in their everyday lives and in their encounters with financial and social institutions. Women have a weaker economic position, they own less -- in many countries nothing at all -- and in general they have less access to various resources.

It is more difficult for them to find employment and even more difficult to get the well-paid jobs. While doing similar kinds of work, they often have lower wages than men. At the same time they usually bear greater responsibility for the upbringing and care of children. Women are not represented to the same extent as men in political institutions. In most of the world they have less access to basic education and even in the wealthiest countries, there are significantly fewer female professors than male.

It is true that there have been many positive developments. Important steps towards achieving gender equality have been taken. The opportunities for women to support themselves through employment have increased. More women are nominated for positions in political assemblies. The Swedish Government currently consists of ten women and twelve men, and women make up 45 percent of the Swedish Parliament. The women's movement -- not least in the USA -- has made a significant international impact in its fight for women's rights and against oppressive attitudes towards women.

But there have also been setbacks and we are presently witnessing a serious backlash in today's society. This backlash manifests itself in three main areas:

Firstly, economic conditions in large parts of the third world have deteriorated for large sections of the populations. This has specifically affected women.

The dramatic changes in Eastern Europe have also had a number of negative consequences. These include of the feminization of poverty and declining public health. New forms of organized crime and Mafia-like networks have risen from the ruins of the old power structures. This has had numerous social consequences such as the increase in the number of women and girls being victims of prostitution and trafficking. In Sweden, the effects have become clear when pimps in our country exploit women from the Baltic countries and northwestern Russia. And in Europe, some 500, 000 (half a million) women are trafficked for prostitution purposes to the different member states of the European Union from the Eastern countries and Asian every year.

Secondly, we have seen signs that various forms of fundamentalism across the world are gaining influence. Religious forms of fundamentalism, in particular, affect the situation of women and girls in a negative way and encroach upon their rights. The leaderships of the Catholic Church and certain political groups in the west sometimes support these forces. They are joining together in their opposition to women's rights, in their unwillingness to provide resources for women's reproductive health and in their opposition to the right and access to abortion and contraceptives. This situation worries me and other feminists around the world.

Thirdly, we have, for a number of years, seen a rise in the international drug trade. Organized crime networks make their profit from the trafficking in drugs, arms as well as in women and children for prostitution purposes. Drug abuse is often a consequence of the abuse and torture that women in prostitution experience at the hands of pimps and traffickers.

That's why it is crucial that we search for holistic solutions and that our work against trafficking in human beings is undertaken as a political priority. Prostitution and trafficking in women touch upon the issues of human rights, gender inequality, sex and racial discrimination, and economic depravation, as well as the rule of law, crime control, law enforcement and corruption.

That’s why the Nordic-Baltic region has chosen a strategy that I think can be interesting for other governments, even if every country or region of course must base their work on their own situation.

In June 2001, I suggested to my colleagues, those ministers who are responsible for gender equality affairs in the Nordic and Baltic countries, that we should jointly organize a Nordic-Baltic Campaign against Trafficking in Women during 2002. The response to my proposal was overwhelmingly positive. We knew that, in order to be truly effective in the fight against trafficking in women, we must work together -- governments, authorities, and civil society -- over national borders and in close collaboration.

The overall objective of the Campaign was to increase our own knowledge and raise awareness in all our countries -- among the public, among authorities and among NGOs -- about trafficking in women in our region. We also wanted to focus on the women and children who are victims of trafficking and the very difficult circumstances that they live under.

Most importantly, we intended, and I believe we accomplished this, to initiate and stimulate debates and discussions about the problem in our region. The success of our work has been reflected in the continuing keen interest of the local media.

I am glad that the U.S. State Department has recognized the importance of the work of NGOs worldwide, against prostitution and trafficking in women. Our experience is that the work of non-governmental organizations is indispensable in the fight against prostitution and trafficking in women. NGOs have valuable experiences and knowledge about how to work against male violence against women, prostitution and trafficking in women.

We must make use of their expertise and learn from them. Their role is to remind us of our undertakings and responsibilities, and to challenge us to take action. We must, in turn, be receptive to their demands and support their work.

I have great expectations as to the outcome of this conference. This is an opportunity for us to re-commit to continue our work through more and better preventive measures, effective legal protection and assistance to all victims, and collaboration to ensure the prosecution of traffickers and organized crime networks. This is an opportunity for us to exchange experiences and ideas on how to work to eliminate existing political, legal economic, social and cultural disparities -- those inequalities that provide the breeding ground for trafficking in human beings between and within our countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

This conference is a way for us to show that even if we -- in many important areas -- do not share the same ideological backgrounds, we are able in one very important, and for many women vital, area to agree and say together:

Women are not for sale!

Stop the prostitution and trafficking in women and children!

Thank you for inviting me and giving me the opportunity to speak.


The Honorable Claude A. Allen
Deputy Secretary
Department of Health and Human Services
February 25, 2003

Thank you, Congressman Miller, for that very kind introduction, and thank you for all of your hard work in the Trafficking in Persons Office at the State Department.

Good morning. It is a real privilege for me to be here with you on behalf of Secretary Tommy Thompson to discuss the role of the Department of Health and Human Services in ending the scourge of human trafficking throughout the world.

I would like to start by telling you about a group of women and children who are trafficked into the United States. Their story epitomizes the abhorrent reality of trafficking in persons. The following facts have been modified to protect the safety and security of the victims.

An increasing number of South American women and girls have been lured into sex slavery due to economic hardship that often plagues their lives.

We know of one group smuggled into the United States with the promise of employment who found their lives changed drastically when turned over to pimps who beat and rape them before coercing them into prostitution and enslavement.

These girls came from small towns in South America, sisters and cousins lured away from their homes and families with hopes of a better life. Ranging from 12 to 30 years of age, they found themselves caught in a horrific chain of events. They were smuggled in to work in captivity as prostitutes at various bars throughout a major metropolitan city, helpless to escape their servitude.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you take this story and multiply it, you will understand the scope of the problem we are facing.

I am happy to say, however, that we at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are working to provide victims like these young women and girls with a fresh start. And just as important, I know that our Attorney General is taking valiant efforts to prosecute and bring the criminals who stole this young girl’s innocence to justice.

These victims had been participants in forced prostitution for up to six months when the FBI and INS conducted a joint raid based on inside information about the existence of this sex trafficking ring. HHS coordinated with INS prior to the raid and began planning in advance with partner agencies to identify placements for child victims.

This case reflects the successful cooperation among federal agencies and non-governmental organization in their efforts to investigate and prosecute a trafficking case involving both adults and minors, to ensure that all trafficked victims receive timely and appropriate care sensitive to their needs.

The raid resulted in the determination of multiple children and over 20 adult women as victims of a severe form of trafficking. At HHS, our Office of Refugee Resettlement at the Administration for Children and Families provided certification and eligibility letters for the women and girls, opening the doors for them to access benefits and services available to refugees.

Several women elected to participate in our matching grant program. The program goal is to help these victims attain self-sufficiency within four months after their certification date, emphasizing employment, English language training, and intensive case management.

Other women received access to benefits such as mental health counseling, food stamps, medical assistance, English as a second language (ESL) training, and cash assistance.

The girls received eligibility letters and were placed into the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) program, which offers specialized resettlement and foster care services.

This program provides access to foster care placement based on individual needs with attention to the cultural, linguistic, and religious background of each youth; special health, educational needs; as well as the personality, temperament and opinions of the youth.

Last October at the White House Conference on Missing and Exploited Children, President Bush said, “In every region of the world, children can be vulnerable -- not just here at home, but children everywhere. Each year about a million girls and boys are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Such trafficking is nothing less than a modern form of slavery; an unspeakable and unforgivable crime against the most vulnerable members of the global society.”

The United Nations estimates that trafficking in persons generated approximately $7 billion per year. It is defiling commerce in human beings, where lives are valued only as a commodity to be exchanged in a criminal and degrading marketplace. Just as the President said, this is a modern day form of slavery.

Functioning as an underground industry, trafficking is extremely difficult to expose. Illegal immigrants are particularly vulnerable to threats and intimidation. Ignorant of our laws and fearful of deportation, victims are isolated further by language and cultural barriers.

Three years ago, however, with the help of a unique bipartisan coalition of women’s groups, faith-based groups, and children’s organizations, the United States adopted its own comprehensive anti-trafficking law -- the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.
The law provides a comprehensive approach to eliminating trafficking in persons in three ways: prevention of trafficking; prosecution of traffickers; and protection and provision of services to victims.

We at HHS are working hand in hand with our sister departments to fulfill every area of this new law. While the Department of Justice will prosecute offenders, we at HHS will look at how to provide financial support, basic medical care, shelter, and counseling to the victims. The lives of these women and children have been destroyed, and we are there to help them rebuild what is left and to give them hope.

Our job at HHS, as I mentioned in the earlier story, is to certify victims of trafficking as refugees, making them eligible for benefits and services to give them that fresh start. This is a critical change to U.S. law.

Here in the United States, a person’s eligibility for benefits and services is linked to their immigration status. Most trafficking victims do not come to the United Stated with an immigration status that would allow them to receive assistance. Refugees are a special group, however, that are eligible for mainstream benefits and services, such as cash assistance, medical care, food stamps, and housing.

Certified trafficking victims can now have access to these essential benefits and services that will help them recover from their trauma and rebuild their lives.

In addition to mainstream benefits and services, we can provide trafficking victims with intensive case management programs to help them find housing and employment and provide assistance for victims of torture, mental health counseling, and specialized foster care programs for children.

Child trafficking victims may be placed with caring families that understand their cultural background and can speak their language. There are also therapeutic placements for children with special needs.

In many ways, our refugee programs are a good fit for trafficking victims. The refugee programs are designed for people who have suffered persecution or torture, have been torn away from everything that is familiar to them, and need to rebuild their lives in a new place where they may not understand the culture and do not speak the language.

In some cases, our refugee programs may not meet all the needs of trafficking victims. To fill the gaps, we have awarded over $4.6 million in grants to 22 organizations for services geared specifically toward trafficking victims and for outreach to them.

Next month, we will issue approximately $3 million to 15 organizations to provide assistance with temporary housing, independent living skills, cultural orientation, and transportation needs. Additionally, we will help these individuals access appropriate educational programs and legal assistance and referrals.

Our outreach programs concentrate on educating local communities about trafficking and the assistance that victims may receive. We have to build a base of services that will embrace the needs of victims of trafficking and surround them with caring individuals.

Since the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, HHS has issued nearly 400 certifications to trafficking victims. We have provided benefits eligibility letters to child trafficking victims, who do not need to be certified, but may access benefits to the same extent as refugees.

While this number may seem small compared with the problem, it is a start. We will be working aggressively with the Department of Justice to find the victims and provide them with the services they so desperately need. I know that Attorney General Ashcroft will mention the Memorandum of Understanding we are working on between our two departments to facilitate finding and protecting these victims.

One important issue that we have to recognize is dealing with human trafficking is prostitution. The young women and girls I mentioned earlier examples of how we cannot separate trafficking and prostitution. Both must be opposed.

We have to take this connection into consideration as we design the services we provide victims of trafficking and in ensuring just and effective punishment of traffickers.

This Administration’s determined strategy is to mobilize the full resources of the United States government for a comprehensive attack on traffickers both here and abroad, and to enforce the law against traffickers and all involved in their criminal enterprises vigorously.

One particular area that is close to my heart is the devastation of HIV/AIDS. I have been to Africa many times and seen what the scourge of the disease is doing to entire nations. And I work on a daily basis in my position as Deputy Secretary to look at how we can fight and prevent HIV/AIDS both here in the United States and aboard.

The sex trade is an explosive rush that spreads HIV transmission throughout communities, and as women and children are trafficked from location to location to location throughout the world, the epidemic will grow.

As we recommend policies to combat trafficking throughout the world, we have to keep issues like HIV/AIDS in mind.

There is a lot that must be done throughout the world to defeat this terrible human rights abuse. No one government or organization can do this alone. We must work together, and only together can we win this fight.

I want to thank everyone one you in this room for your dedication to this issue. I know you have traveled from throughout the world to tell your stories and to let us know how we can help you. Take advantage of the time you have here, and make the connections and the partnerships you need to go back home and combat trafficking in your own countries.

Thank you for allowing me to be with you this morning, and I look forward to working with you as we put an end to this horrific scourge we call human trafficking.
February 24, 2003
February 24, 2003
February 24, 2003
 
The Honorable Paula J. Dobriansky
Under Secretary for Global Affairs
Department of State


February 23, 2003
East Asia is one of the world’s largest source and destination areas. Some sources have reported that more than 225,000 East Asians are trafficked for sexual exploitation each year. Sporadic attempts have been made to form regional links on the issue, and some countries have laws or criminal codes that criminalize trafficking, but they are applied unevenly. The representatives of seven countries who attended this workshop lamented the lack of regional coordination now existing in the area. As first steps for addressing the problems together they suggested that the area:

The Honorable John Ashcroft
U.S. Attorney General
Department of Justice
February 25, 2003

Good morning. It is a privilege to join you today. I thank Secretary Powell for hosting this conference and for his commitment to eradicating one of the most heinous crimes plaguing our society -- human trafficking.

The Department of Justice’s charge to safeguard, nourish and protect the conditions of freedom that make America unique. One of those conditions is the respect and value that American culture places on the dignity of each and every individual. The Justice Department is committed to defending freedom and human dignity. One of the greatest threats to human dignity is human trafficking: the co-modification of human beings.

Let me tell you a story. Last February, the Plainfield, New Jersey Police Department raided a house of prostitution. Tragically, the police discovered not only adult prostitutes, but also four young Mexican girls -- ages fourteen to seventeen. Upon investigation, authorities learned all of the girls had been working at menial jobs in Mexico when young men offering them promises of love, marriage, and a better life approached them. The men invited the girls on dates, then smuggled them into the United States. These men trafficked the girls out of one desperate situation and into another.

The men, later identified as brothers Delfino and Luis Jimenez-Calderon, worked with their sisters, Miriam and Laura Jimenez-Calderon. Delfino and Luis turned the young girls over to Miriam and Laura, who confined the young girls to the brothel in Plainfield, New Jersey. Miriam and Laura forced these young girls into prostitution using isolation, physical violence, threats, and psychological coercion to maintain control over them.

The Jimenez-Calderon sisters prohibited the girls from talking to one another or to anyone else in the house, and forbade them to contact anyone in the outside world. The sisters ordered the frightened girls to lie about their ages and took all the money the girls earned. Any infraction of these stringent, cruel rules resulted in physical abuse. Desperate, the girls remained trapped in this living nightmare until the police raid the following February.

Thanks to a joint effort of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey, six of the eight defendants pled guilty. Two remain at large. Sentencing for the other six is pending. But no penalty can erase the scars of those young girls.

This story is heart-rending but, tragically, it is not unique. Each year, tens of thousands of people -- predominantly women and children -- are trafficked into the United States. Even one is one too many. These innocent victims are kidnapped or lured with false promises of good jobs and better lives. They are then abused and cruelly exploited. They are forced into servitude and prostitution. All too often, the victims of this slavery are too young, too afraid, or simply unable to seek help. Those who traffic in human lives treat people as easily expendable and highly profitable. But behind each dollar sign is a human tragedy.

  • In Maryland, a couple was convicted for luring a 14-year-old girl from Cameroon with promises of a splendid American education, only to enslave her as a domestic servant in their home. They kept her under their power for three years through physical violence and threats of deportation, and she was sexually assaulted. The couple was convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison.

  • In California, a prominent landlord pled guilty to trafficking women and young girls into the United States from India and placing them in sexual servitude.

  • In Florida, a 19-year-old girl was kidnapped from her home in Guatemala, smuggled into the United States and imprisoned. By day, she was forced into agricultural labor and by night she was forced into sexual servitude. The kidnapper was convicted in federal court and sentenced to nine years in prison.
These are not struggles in faraway lands, but right here at home. Their stories shock our consciences, offend our values, and demand our compassionate, effective response.

As the world has gotten smaller and technology has improved, it has become much easier for traffickers -- and their victims -- to move freely across borders. Trafficking is a transnational criminal enterprise. It recognizes neither boundaries nor borders. Profits from trafficking feed into the coffers of organized crime. Trafficking is fueled by other criminal activities such as document fraud, money laundering and migrant smuggling. Because trafficking cases are expansive in reach, they are among the most important matters -- as well as the most labor and time-intensive matters -- undertaken by the Department of Justice. They often involve:

  • large numbers of victims;
  • language barriers;
  • multiple investigating agencies;
  • overseas investigations; and
  • severe sexual and/or physical trauma of victims and witnesses, requiring the expertise of various professionals, including rape counselors, psychiatrists, physicians, and child interview specialists.
The Department of Justice remains firmly committed to ensuring criminals who engage in human trafficking are aggressively investigated, swiftly prosecuted, and severely punished. I thank the United States Congress for enacting the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, which I had the privilege to support as a United States Senator. The United States has led the world in combating trafficking over the past several years, due in no small part to this legislation.
  • The Justice Department has opened a record number of trafficking investigations and prosecuted a record number of traffickers. In fiscal years 2001 through 2002, the Justice Department more than doubled the number of trafficking prosecutions -- and doubled the number of convictions -- over the previous two fiscal years.

  • Just this past Friday -- in the largest human trafficking case ever prosecuted -- Justice Department prosecutors secured the conviction of Kil Soo Lee, the owner of an American Samoa garment factory, for the exploitation and forced labor of more than 200 Chinese and Vietnamese workers. Kil Soo Lee and his co-conspirators recruited the workers and then illegally confined them, forcing them to operate the garment factory. The victims in this case were deprived of food, physically abused, and threatened with deportation if they attempted to resist.

  • In fiscal years 2001 and 2002, the Department successfully convicted 36 defendants in sex trafficking prosecutions. That is three times the number of sex traffickers prosecuted in the previous two fiscal years.

  • Trafficking investigations have been initiated in 46 states and in all United States territories. In the past two years alone, the Department's trafficking indictments have originated from countries around the world, including Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

  • By definition, trafficking is an international problem that requires an international solution. The Justice Department's Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training team, or OPDAT, has worked closely with the State Department and prosecutors abroad to enhance anti-trafficking efforts. In Bulgaria and Romania, OPDAT's assisted in drafting of a law prohibiting human trafficking that closely reflects the UN Protocol on Trafficking. Their efforts led to the establishment of human trafficking law enforcement task forces in those countries.
We have made great progress. But each heartbreaking tale of injustice compels us to do even more. At the Justice Department, we have focused our efforts to combat trafficking on four key areas:
  • continued outreach services to the women and young girls who are the victims of sex trafficking;
  • immigration assistance to victims;
  • law enforcement training and outreach; and
  • increased internal and interagency coordination.
First, the Justice Department works to ensure that victims of trafficking have the services they need from the moment we encounter them. Victims of trafficking who have suffered unspeakably are often, not surprisingly, unwilling to place their trust in the federal government. We must continue to reach out to them, and send the message that human freedom and human dignity will be protected in the United States of America. It is the criminals who enslaved them who must pay a terrible price, not the victims.

Earlier this month, the Department's Office for Victims of Crime awarded twelve grants totaling more than $9.5 million for trafficking-related services. Three grants will support specialized services to trafficking victims in larger multi-state areas. Eight grants will support comprehensive services to trafficking victims in a specific state or region. These services will include:

  • emergency medical attention;
  • food and shelter;
  • vocational and English language training;
  • mental health counseling; and
  • legal support.
The second area of our efforts involves assisting victims of trafficking with immigration issues. The Immigration and Naturalization Service has assisted approximately 300 victims in getting access to immigration benefits. The INS has granted 300 "continued presence" requests and is currently processing 150 T-visa applications. In the past, traffickers have exploited their victims' fear of being discovered as illegal aliens. The T-visa was designed to help trafficking victims who cooperate with law enforcement to punish those responsible for their enslavement. It allows victims to remain in the United States and allows us to turn the exploitive tactics of traffickers against them.

These T-visas are making an important difference, one life at a time. Since I announced the implementation of the T-visas, the INS has been able to grant 23 T-visas to victims in need. The courageous women and children who help U.S. prosecutors convict traffickers of these egregious crimes deserve and need the best help we can give them.

Although the INS will soon be housed in the newly created Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice will continue to work hand in hand with other federal agencies to continue the fight against trafficking.

The third area of our victims' assistance efforts involves the training of both federal and local law enforcement to ensure trafficking victims are swiftly identified and soundly protected. Last fall, the Criminal Section of the Department's Civil Rights Division organized comprehensive anti-trafficking training for federal prosecutors and agents.
  • We train investigators to determine whether human trafficking activity is masquerading as other crimes, such as alien smuggling.
  • We provide law enforcement officials with federal, state and local contacts to assist them in moving quickly to triage a trafficking case.
  • We develop regional anti-trafficking task forces across the country.
  • We forge new ties of cooperation with non-governmental organizations throughout the nation, and train their service providers on the victim services and criminal provisions of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
Fourth and finally, we have increased coordination among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The Plainfield, New Jersey sex trafficking case is a prime example: federal and local police collaborated to investigate the crime, safeguard the victims and prosecute the traffickers. The victims were given safe haven by a non-governmental organization.

To better integrate our interagency coordination, in the next month the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services will execute a Memorandum of Understanding that will formalize our extensive coordination in helping trafficking victims. Specifically, we will coordinate our efforts so victims may receive "continued presence," a designation that they have submitted a "bona fide" T visa application, and a certification that they are eligible to receive HHS benefits and services as if they were refugees. It will then be easier to provide assistance to victims in the crucial period between the time they are discovered by law enforcement and the time they are eligible for refugee benefits.

As the reports of human trafficking continue to increase, we are reminded sharply that no state, no territory, no nation is immune from these crimes. Victims of trafficking come from many places, but share a common plight. They are too young, too frightened, and too trapped in their circumstances to speak for themselves. It falls to us -- all of us gathered here today -- to be the voices of these victims. We cannot -- we will not -- stand by as women and children are sold into slavery, and as the toll in human suffering mounts.

Sex trafficking is more than just a serious violation of the law. It is an affront to human dignity; it is an assault on human values. We must and we will continue to work together to protect the victims of trafficking and to bring to justice all those who violate their human dignity. 


The Honorable Richard L. Armitage
Deputy Secretary
Department of State

February 25, 2003

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I know all of you here now are in your second day of this conference. It seems to me that 400 activists together in one place is a tremendous concentration of kinetic energy. So I’m sure by now you’ve moved this issue several hundred miles down the road.

Indeed, Secretary Powell had hoped to be with you today, but he is on a plane right now -- probably asleep, actually -- returning from a trip to Asia. I know that you are well aware of the high-stakes diplomacy in which he is engaged. Indeed, the stakes just got a little higher with the introduction in the UN Security Council of a second resolution on Iraq. We will be working assiduously over the next several days to secure its passage. Our concerns about Iraq, its chemical and biological weapons and its nuclear intentions, accounted for a significant portion of the Secretary’s agenda in Asia. But he was also talking about North Korea, its self-inflicted desperation, as millions of people face starvation as a result of mismanagement and just plain bad luck. Of course, he was also discussing Afghanistan. And President Hamid Karzai is here in town with us today. In fact he will be meeting with President Bush about the ongoing operations against terrorists still in the region and the international humanitarian effort to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan.

I would say that while the Department of State deals with a wide variety of concerns every day, these are certainly the focal points right now. What makes each of these situations so challenging is the severity of the threat -- not just to U.S. security, but also to the security of nations all over the world. But it is also the sheer scale of human misery in each place. Conflict, repression and abuse have been or continue to be the dominant realities for most people in these countries. Poverty, despair and hunger are their constant companions. The world has found out the hard way that such misery does not stay neatly inside national boundaries. Nor do the crime and lawlessness that tend to flourish alongside. We treat this agony as someone else’s problem at our own peril.

And so I am truly grateful to have an opportunity to be with you this morning -- the people who work every day to solve one of the most troubling and elusive transnational problems today for this nation and, indeed, for all nations.

Indeed it is remarkable to me that you have made the effort to come here. After all, this is a rare occasion for most of you. You don’t spend much time talking about these issues -- you spend your time actually dealing with them. Some of you come from large, multi-million dollar organizations. Some of you come from what I would refer to as mom-and-pop operations. Some of you try to educate young women, to teach them that their own dreams can make them vulnerable. Others hunt down and jail the criminals who steal and corrupt those dreams. Some of you build shelters to harbor and to help the victims. And others have actually been victims.

You all have different experiences to relate, different concerns to raise, and different contributions to make. But even with all of this considerable diversity, you have so much in common. Because each of you, every single person here, is a hero. And today, all of you are standing together in the fight against trafficking of human beings.

There are a number of countries represented here today that face concerns about trafficking for some time, particularly the sexual exploitation of women and children. But as a global, transnational issue on such a staggering scale, this trade in human flesh is a relatively recent phenomenon. Indeed, it is frightening how fast this insidious business has grown. I think you know the numbers -- and the tragic faces behind those numbers. As many as 4 million people are now sold or stolen every year. Fifty thousand of them end up here in the United States -- and those are just the ones we can count. This is an industry that already brings the hardened criminals running it some seven billion dollars a year, a business so lucrative that our intelligence community estimates it will outstrip the illicit trade in guns and narcotics within a decade.

Of course, it is not just the scale of trafficking that is so vast, it is also the scope. This is a local problem. Communities of every size on both the origin and destination ends of this chain of sorrow have to contend with victims -- and with criminals.

This is a regional problem. Traffickers are regularly transiting state boundaries, too often with impunity, taking advantage of the lack of communication and the inconsistency of laws and enforcement from one nation to another.

But this is also a global problem. Victims, usually young women, end up in slavery and servitude half a world away from home, enduring a constant assault on their bodies and their dignity -- often in a place where they don’t speak the language and don’t have legal permission to stay.

This vast and vile system thrives on isolation, of the victims from their families and from the communities where they are deposited. But also the self-imposed solitary confinement of local, regional and national efforts to combat this insidious trade.

In this room, we’ve got people who work to counter this nefarious business at the local, at the regional and at the global levels. Without question, each of you is playing a critical role in saving lives, whether you are a government minister, commanding an entire bureaucracy to prosecute criminals, or whether you are a parish priest, comforting a victim in a rural village. We are going to defeat this awful trade one person at a time, if we must. But without question, it would be far better to join forces -- as nations, as activists, as private individuals, and as government officials, and multiply the effects of our individual efforts.

The truth is that no single government, no single group can access every dark corner where the criminals operate. The only effective way to have the kind of reach required is to work in partnership with other nations and organizations and individuals, wherever and whenever we can. Indeed, the highly organized criminals engaged in sex trafficking do not respect borders or boundaries. If we are going to counter them, we simply cannot afford to be any less effective.

And that’s why this conference is so important. Each of you has an established record of success. You have so much to share with each other, including the practical strategies and the practical solutions for dealing with problems and challenges you all face.

I understood you heard last night from Deputy Prime Minister Winberg and Vice President Santos, and that they were able to share with you some of the ways in which Sweden and Colombia have made a national commitment to countering this trade. In that regard, I believe the United States also has much to bring to the table. We are relatively young in our formal efforts to fight trafficking, but we have already had great success in establishing a strong system, even in a short space of time. And while the dedication of a few key individuals, including people you are hearing from or meeting with at this conference, gives us important momentum, I believe we owe much of this progress to an unusually high degree of cooperation within our own government, between Congress and the Administration, but also between the U.S. Government and non-governmental organizations. And it is my belief that the Directive the President just signed, which he mentioned in his letter to you, would help to consolidate and codify our framework for dealing with trafficking.

I know that Deputy Secretary Allen and the Attorney General told you in some detail about this framework for prevention, protection, and prosecution. And I believe the track record they told you about is something the United States can and will continue to share with other countries. But I just want to say a few words about some of the specific mechanisms housed at the Department of State.

In particular, I want to single out the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, your host for this conference. This is the Office responsible for, among other things, writing our annual report, which is not only a clear statement that trafficking is a priority in U.S. foreign policy, it is a document that carries actual consequences. For the first time this year, the findings of the annual report will help determine whether certain nations are subject to sanctions for failing to take adequate measures to fight trafficking. The Department of State also supports prevention, protection and prosecution projects around the world. In some cases in partnership with the Agency for International Development and in others by grants to other governments and private groups engaged in the fight against trafficking.

As I said, we are all in this fight together, and it is essential, absolutely essential, that we join forces. The United States is backing this commitment with resources and with actions. I sincerely hope that many of you will do the same -- and that this conference will be only the first time you come together with your colleagues and your comrades at arms.

As you all know, the stakes are almost unbearably high. In far too many places in the world, freedom, the rule of law, and respect for human lives are hard to come by. And so in the end, this conference, this fight we are all engaged in, this is not just about what we stand against. This is also about what we stand for. We all stand for a world in which women, children and men everywhere have the opportunity to live in dignity, where dreams for a better life can become reality.

And so I want to encourage all of you to continue this noble endeavor, to thank you for your commitment to securing freedom, human rights and the rule of law not just for your own nations -- but for all of the nations of the international community.


The Honorable Andrew Natsios
Administrator
U.S. Agency for International Development
February 25, 2003

I have several comments I want to make tonight. The first is that even though we sometimes disaggregate these issues, international criminal cartels increasingly exist in the world, using the high technology that we talk about in the new global system, and the legal global system of the new international economy for their own purposes. And so there has been a dramatic increase in international criminal activity as globalization has proceeded.

There's a darker side as well as a brighter, legitimate side of international business. These latter have created jobs and a wealth of opportunity around the world. But these same technologies have also been used for darker purposes. There's a wonderful book written by a friend of mine, Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist who writes for the Far Eastern Economic Review. It's called The Taliban. It's the preeminent work on the Taliban, written before September 11th. Ahmed describes in this book how al Qaeda and Taliban used the drug trade in Afghanistan to fund the international terrorist network of al Qaeda.

So if you look carefully at the kind of work international criminal cartels are involved in, there is a lot of it -- in human trafficking; in slave acquisition in Sudan; in the drug trade; in counterfeiting.

People wonder why we changed our currency recently in terms of the printing of our bills. The reason is to make it much more difficult to counterfeit. I see the bills myself in the developing world, where states that are weak or collapsed are wonderful breeding grounds for all these criminal activities, including counterfeiting.

And so if we think we can separate these issues, we can't. These groups are involved with each other in various criminal cartels and are using high technology to make huge profits against the rule of law. We need to know all of these networks that violate the rule of law, the very basis of democracy and of human rights.

Let me make some comments specifically on the trafficking issue itself. There are three points that I want to make tonight.

The first is that human trafficking is an abuse of human rights. It is a human rights issue. We need to treat it that way. It is a repugnant business that not only abuses the human rights of the victim, but stands as a direct affront to all of us. People who are ensnared and entrapped are often kept in conditions of virtual slavery. As a contemporary form of slavery, this is a clear violation of international standards, rights that are accepted worldwide.

There are various kinds of this abuse. There's debt bondage, as we see in some countries in Asia. There's impressment, there's forced labor, there’s indentured servitude. All of these are, in different form, violations of inalienable human rights.

We know that a large number of women and children are trafficked for the specific purpose of sexual exploitation. This, too, is a violation of individual rights, because forced sex is rape, and rape is a form of torture.

Secondly, human trafficking is development issue. We cannot separate the development process in a country from the trafficking issue. Poverty, lack of opportunity, lack of jobs, inadequate economic growth, collapsed economies, inadequate education, and the special needs of women and children are all development issues.

I don't know if the study's been done, but if you took women who had been trafficked and saw how many of them have college degrees, I suspect you'd find a very, very low correlation. It is not that traffickers choose people without education, it's that women who have a college degree, or at least a high school education, are much less likely to be naive about promises that are made by people who understand the reality of the way the world works and its darker side. And so education is critically important, in addition to other parts of development, to reducing the vulnerability of women to trafficking.

The dimension of this despicable business and the sophistication of the organizations and the networks that support it are becoming clearer to all of us all the time. And so, too, is the commitment of the United States to fight it.

Under Secretary Dobriansky mentioned some of the things that USAID is doing around the world. We now invest $10 million a year in programs specifically aimed at trafficking. Of course, we've just doubled our budget over the last few years on the instructions of President Bush. In our education program we went from $100 million to $212 million for our fiscal year 2004 budget request. So we've had a dramatic increase in our funding just in primary education. And I always like to say that we like to invest money in development programs that have multiple good side effects.

And primary education's an interesting thing, not only because it improves a young person's chances for a job and economic growth. We've done studies in Africa and other countries that show that without any additional input or training, just a sixth-grade education for girls will substantially increase their purchasing power. I suspect the reason has something to do with computational skills that women can use in calculating what makes sense in terms of what they purchase. We're not quite sure. But the studies are very clear.

It's also clear that education has an effect, as I mentioned earlier, on trafficking and on human rights generally. We have programs now in 34 countries in trafficking, designed to address a variety of different parts of the trafficking problem.

Development is a very long and hard, difficult task. One thing I always tell people who want immediate results is if you want immediate results, you won't get them. The fact of the matter is: development takes a while to take place.

I tell this story. My father was born in the United States, like my mother, but my grandparents on both sides of my family were born in the old country, Greece. They came to America a hundred years ago. We went to their village in 1963, and my father said it was so depressing in my grandfather's village that he would never go again. People were ill; they were stunted in growth because of poor nutrition. There were high mortality rates even then, in 1963. And people were poorly educated: my grandfather was illiterate when he came to the United States.

And we went back. I took my wife and my kids back in 1994, 30 years later. The village had no donkeys: everybody had cars and tractors. Everybody had at least a high school degree. The streets were all paved. The nutrition was so good that people were bigger than my kids and I. When you go through a list of indicators, it's very clear that in 30 years Greece went from a Third World country with per capita income of $300 to a First World country with per capita income of $16,000. I asked people in the village: what's changed here? My father said, don't go back, it's so depressing. They said it's because Greece joined the European Union and their products are now exported all over Europe. And that income means more jobs and more wealth. This is a remote village, in the rural area.

And people aren't emigrating out of the village; they're going back to the village. People were leaving the village because it was so poor, and now they're coming back to the village. That's the real Greece.

The point here is that it took 30 years for one of the poorest countries in Europe to become a prosperous middle-class democracy. Development works, but it does take time, it takes investment, and it takes commitment. And it takes economic growth. Economic growth will help us in whole effort to destroy trafficking and the other international criminal cartels around the world.

The third point I want to make tonight, the final point, is that trafficking is a criminal justice issue. We should not separate criminal justice from all these international criminal cartels, particularly human trafficking.

One organization that has shown what can be done when enforcement is taken seriously is the International Justice Mission (IJM). I have a little bias in this because World Vision, where I served as vice president for five years, was one of the original funders, as I recall, of Gary Haugen's group, the International Justice Mission. And for a short time I did sit on the board of directors. I don't know how much trouble I caused when I was on the board, but it is a very impressive organization because it's focusing on what it needs to focus on, which is the criminal justice area.

By employing criminal justice investigators and seasoned law enforcement professionals, the IJM has used modern surveillance technology to document where children are being held -- depending on the cadre and the trafficking we're talking about -- and in the collection of evidence for prosecution.

I think we need to test the law more aggressively around the world to see whether or not an aggressive enforcement model will bring down the trafficking rates. I have every confidence that's exactly what's going to happen. And I think we need to focus more attention on this aspect of it, because it is a legal issue, it's a rule of law issue, and it's a criminal justice issue.

We at AID and at the State Department will work with all of you and your organizations around the world to advance the cause of human rights and to advance our efforts to destroy the criminal cartels, particularly the trafficking cartels. I've made this a personal priority for myself.

We have a new AID anti-trafficking strategy that will come out very shortly. I didn't realize this, and I always am surprised by it, but AID is a great jewel. But it is not always well recognized around the world. In the Third World, its development work is very well recognized. It's not well recognized sometimes in the United States. But the reality is, some of the experts in the world on human trafficking are in AID field missions. I've been meeting with them over time, and they've been educating me about what we need to do to combat this blight against humanity.

So we are your allies and your friends, and we look forward to working with you. Thank you very much.


The Honorable Chris Smith
U.S. House of Representatives
February 25, 2003

It’s a distinct privilege to be invited to address this distinguished gathering of global leaders in the war on trafficking. Members of this audience have done more than anyone to mitigate the suffering of trafficked persons. On behalf of Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle and our families who are deeply concerned about the victims -- thank you.

Ladies and Gentleman, human trafficking is an outrageous, cruel, dehumanizing modern manifestation of slavery.

It is hard to believe that in 2003, women, children and men are bought and sold as chattel every day into the U.S. and abroad. Tragically, up to 4 million persons worldwide, mainly women and children, are trafficked. Statistics of this loathsome business are difficult to garner, and many believe that the actual number of victims is much higher. In India alone, over 2.3 million girls and women are believed to be working in the sex industry against their will at any given time and more than 200,000 persons are believed to be trafficked into, within, or through India each year. As despicable as it sounds, some of the victims in India are actually ten years old or younger.

To illustrate the reality of this crisis right here in America, I'd like to highlight two trafficking cases from my home state of New Jersey. One year ago, on February 22, 2002, five people in New Jersey were arrested and charged with enslaving four girls from Mexico. Another individual was charged later. The girls -- aged 14 to 18 -- were lured to the United States with promises of marriage and good paying jobs. Once here, they were confined and forced to work in a brothel. Their traffickers used threats of harm, force, and psychological coercion to keep them in their servitude -- you know the drill. Thanks to the efforts of the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, Chris Christie, the six were found guilty and will be sentenced on April 15. Pursuant to the penalties contained in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, five of the six face the possibility of life in prison and fines of $250,000.

Six months later, on August 28, 2002, three other people in New Jersey were arrested and charged with trafficking for forced labor. These criminals victimized at least 30 Russian women. When they arrived at JFK Airport in New York, the women's passports, visas, and return plane tickets were confiscated by the defendants, again -- you know the drill. They were forced to work six days a week, 8-10 hours a day as nude dancers. The women had to pay their traffickers $200 per day. If they complained or could not make their payments, their families back home in Russia were threatened with serious injury or Russian-mob retaliation. A trial date will be set shortly for these exploiters. These two cases, of course, are just the tip of an unseemly iceberg.

Ladies and Gentleman, this historic conference has brought together an unprecedented array of experts, from government, academia, religious institutions, and the non-governmental sector. It has generated thought-provoking dialogue. It has resulted in scores of new ideas. And those ideas have been planted in the minds of the people most likely to bring them to fruition. This conference has helped build new and strong bridges. It has even shown us that in some cases the weapons we are using to fight the battle against slavery are not necessarily the most effective. This conference has put new and better weapons in our arsenal.

I want to take a moment to recognize the Honorable Elena Mizulina, a member of the Russian Duma who is here with us this evening. Deputy Mizulina is a fellow member of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. Just this past week, Deputy Mizulina introduced into the Russian Parliament a comprehensive anti-trafficking bill that she wrote and has championed.

In 1999, the same year I introduced the anti-trafficking bill, I led a delegation to the annual meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Parliamentary Assembly held in St. Petersburg, Russia. While in Russia, my wife Marie and I along with others in the delegation listened to numbing, heart-wrenching stories from young women who had been trafficked. As with previous meeting with victims, we were stunned by the enormity of their pain. They were the walking wounded yet somehow, the lucky ones because they had been rescued.

Inspired by the victims, we challenged the legislators from the countries of Europe and Eurasia to fight this horrific abuse. To look askance or trivialize this exploitation, we argued, makes lawmakers and their governments unwitting accomplices in heinous crimes against women. So the U.S. tried to lead, not just in word but in deed, as well.

In November 2000, the U.S. Congress passed, and the President signed, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. As a result of that sweeping law, the U.S. Government allocated $68.2 million last year to combat trafficking in human beings. Before the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, U.S. Government agencies allocated few, if any, resources to this issue.

As you know the Act empowers prosecutors with the tools they need to crack down on traffickers. In the past two years, the Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney's Offices have initiated prosecutions of 76 human traffickers -- three times as many as in the two previous years. Thirty-three traffickers have been charged under the new statutes created by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act -- meaning that the penalties they face are twice what they would have been if charged under previous laws.

At the end of 2002, the Justice Department had 125 open trafficking investigations -- nearly twice as many as were open in January 2001 -- all of this, despite a massive reallocation of funds and talent to the war on terrorism.

Under Attorney General Ashcroft's leadership, the Department of Justice now treats the fight against human trafficking as a top civil rights priority. The Department's efforts are yielding results. Just last Friday, a jury in Hawaii convicted the owner of the Daewoosa Samoa Ltd. garment factory of involuntary servitude. The owner of Daewoosa enslaved more than 200 Chinese and Vietnamese workers in American Samoa. This was the largest human trafficking case ever investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by the Department of Justice. The owner of the Daewoosa Company faces up to 20 years in prison on each of 11 counts of involuntary servitude plus additional time for money laundering, conspiracy and extortion. The company also has been ordered by a court in American Samoa to pay $3.5 million to the Daewoosa workers.

You remember how it was just a few years ago -- the victims of trafficking were often rounded up like cattle and deported, often right back into a vicious cycle of violence, exploitation, and despair. Since passage of the Act, however, trafficked persons are now being treated as victims of a crime rather than as criminals. The Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement, has certified over 370 individuals as victims of trafficking. This certification allows victims to receive federal and state benefits and services, including a work permit, housing, and medical care.

One of the most difficult legislative battles during consideration of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act was on the creation of the T-visa. This non-immigrant visa allows victims of trafficking to remain in the United States rather than facing deportation to a place where their lives could be endangered by their traffickers. Frankly though, more needs to be done to implement the T-visa provisions. The slow pace of adjudication of T-visa applications disturbs me. I am also troubled that in cases where a prosecution does not occur, victims of trafficking are having difficulty getting from law enforcement authorities the certifications they need to qualify for a T-visa. While it was the intent of the legislation that victims of trafficking should help in the investigation or prosecution of trafficking cases, there should be no doubt that the T-visa was primarily intended as a humanitarian tool to facilitate the rehabilitation of trafficking survivors. If our law enforcement authorities have not yet gotten this message, then it is high time that they do.

Since passage of the Act, some governments have begun to address trafficking for the first time. Many were motivated by their placement on the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons report. (Amazingly, naming egregious violators almost killed the legislation because it was considered undiplomatic to name names. This too, like the T-Visa battle, took months to win in Congress.) In part, because of this report, I believe legislative reforms are being enacted.

Of the 89 countries reported in the State Department's report, the records of 71 nations do not yet satisfy even minimal standards in the fight against trafficking. Nineteen of those countries cannot even be said to be making significant efforts. Nations with poor records, however, should be put on notice, that if they do not reform immediately and comprehensively, and thus earn the dubious distinction of being a Tier 3 country, they will be subject to sanctions, including the denial of non-humanitarian U.S. foreign aid, this year. On this issue the United States speaks with the same voice to its friends, like Bosnia, Greece, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey as well as those with whom we have bad diplomatic relations like Belarus, Burma, Iran, and Sudan.

Clearly there is still much work to be done by lawmakers, by government authorities, by civil society, by our faith communities, and by all men and women of good will. As we do our work, we must constantly bear in mind the lives that have been shattered by the horrors of trafficking -- the abuse of slavery -- which will require a lifetime of healing.

I would like to briefly highlight a few areas where I hope to see further action in the very near term.

First, let's continue to enact and reform the laws necessary to break the cycle of human trafficking. Addressing the legal deficiencies in the U.S. Code took an enormous investment of political will, a careful examination of our laws on the books, and dogged determination to craft legal tools for the prosecution of traffickers and the protection of victims. (And we're not done yet). Each and every government and parliament is responsible for ensuring that trafficking in human beings is recognized as a criminal offense with penalties reflecting the grievous nature of the offense. Once enacted, consistent implementation of the law must be a priority for law enforcement authorities, prosecutors, judges, and parliaments with oversight responsibilities.

Of equal importance, let's focus greater efforts to promote victim protection and later reintegration into their communities, or resettlement. The needs of trafficking survivors do not end when they are freed in a police raid. This concept has not yet fully caught on. Authorities have the responsibility for the safety and basic needs of victims, including food, clothing, medical attention, shelter, and safe repatriation if that is what is warranted. Ideally law enforcement authorities can partner with non-governmental organizations in providing for the special needs of victims. The sheer numbers of victims and the depth of their wounds -- physical, psychological and emotional -- clamor for more and more well-trained, experienced counselors who are equipped to offer the hope of healing.

Let's focus more attention on the human rights violations that make women more prone to consider migration and thus become potential prey for traffickers. Specifically, I'm talking about violence against women that is ignored by legal systems and downplayed by law enforcement authorities. Unredressed domestic violence and rape contributes to a woman's sense of desperation. I'm also talking about the poverty of opportunity that comes from unchallenged discrimination in educational systems or the marketplace and, thus, contributes to women's economic distress. These and other violations of the human rights of women can result in more women being victimized. through trafficking. The solution? Reforms like equal access to the classroom, micro credit loans, and equal pay for equal work.

Let's insist that government and law enforcement authorities address the official corruption -- at the highest and lowest levels -- that allows trafficking to flourish. Police raids of trafficking establishments are rendered useless when local police officers tip off the owners that a raid is imminent. Prosecute and jail the bad cop on the take. Likewise, in many countries, backlogged courts and local corruption render prosecutorial efforts ineffective.

At its core, human trafficking is a gross violation of human rights. Cracking down on trafficking of human beings deprives transnational criminals of a key source of revenue. The fight against trafficking strengthens the rule of law, protects basic human rights, and liberates human beings from slavery and brutal exploitation.

Let us call on our political leaders, civic leaders, spiritual leaders and others to denounce trafficking as the insidious evil that it is -- an evil that destroys human dignity and reduces human life to a replaceable commodity.

Let us all work together to make this the decade in which we abolish slavery from the face of the earth.

 

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