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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2003 > December
Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 8, 2003

Interagency Task Force Reviews Progress Against Trafficking in Persons - December 8

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell will convene a meeting of the Interagency Task Force on Trafficking in Persons at 3:00 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 8, 2003 at the U.S. Department of State. Secretary Powell, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy L. Thompson and others will meet to review progress on efforts to halt trafficking in persons and discuss plans for the $50 million announced by President Bush at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for the worldwide fight against slavery.

The leaders are expected to approve grant-making procedures for U.S. funding that will bring new partners into the fight against trafficking, focus anti-trafficking work in key geographic areas, and target sex trafficking and tourism. The growing sex trade has resulted in increased public health risks -- an issue that will also be discussed.

Many Americans think slavery ended with the Civil War in the 1800s; unfortunately, it didnít. Today, human slavery, also known as trafficking in persons, is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry worldwide. Women and children are often the victims, forced into the sex trade or lured into slave-labor situations with the promise of better lives. They are abused, trapped, and dehumanized.

President Bush focused attention on this critical human rights issue and directed the U.S. government to accelerate progress in the global fight against slavery. He was the first world leader to speak on human trafficking at the UNGA. (http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/rm/24336.htm)

Congress has also strongly supported efforts to both monitor trafficking and tie non-humanitarian foreign assistance to countriesí efforts to combat the human slave trade. The U.S. Department of Stateís Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons was created in 2000 as a result of Congressional action.

The Presidentís Interagency Task Force on Trafficking in Persons includes Cabinet members from the departments of State, Justice, Labor, Homeland Security, Defense, and Health and Human Services. Other agencies represented on the panel are the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Former U.S. Representative John Miller, Senior Advisor to Secretary of State Powell on trafficking issues, is available for interviews. Interested media should contact Caroline Tetschner, (202) 312-9648 for scheduling.

Released on December 8, 2003

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