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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2002 > June

Special Briefing on Release of Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2002

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
June 5, 2002

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SECRETARY POWELL: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I am here today to present the Department of State's Second Annual Trafficking in Persons Report. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act that mandates the report condemns trafficking as a modern form of slavery. This report represents the resolve of the entire US Government to stop this appalling assault on the dignity of men, women and children.

Traffickers prey on the most vulnerable members of our human family, violating their most basic rights, subjecting them to degradation and misery. Every year, an estimated 700,000 to 4 million people around the world are victimized by traffickers through fraud, coercion, and outright kidnapping. The overwhelming majority of victims are women and children. Traffickers often force them into pornography and prostitution, subjecting them to terrible mental and physical abuse, and putting them at risk from devastating diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

Trafficking leaves no land untouched, including our own. Approximately 50,000 people are trafficked into the United States every year. Here and abroad, the victims of trafficking toil under inhuman conditions -- in brothels, sweatshops, fields and even in private homes.

The Annual Trafficking in Persons Report shines a much-needed light on this global problem. We use the information that we collect to bolster the will of the international community to combat this unconscionable crime. We welcome and encourage the vital sharing of information by other countries, nongovernmental organizations, and individuals. The United States seeks to work with all nations to document this egregious form of exploitation and to cooperate with them to end it once and for all.

In the year since the last report, I am pleased to announce that South Korea, by the standards of the report, has made great strides in improving its record. Romania and Israel also have worked with us to significantly strengthen their anti-trafficking efforts. We hope that other countries will take similar steps.

Countries that make a serious effort to address the problem will find a partner in the United States, ready to help them design and implement effective programs. Countries that do not make such an effort, however, will be subject to sanctions under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act beginning next year.

For our own part, President Bush has directed all relevant United States agencies to combine forces to eradicate trafficking and help rehabilitate its victims. In accordance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the President has established an interagency task force to coordinate our domestic and foreign activities. Earlier this year, I chaired the task force's first meeting of cabinet level officials. Since this important meeting, our teams have been working closely together to intensify United States Government efforts and to keep the issue in sharp focus.

We hope that this year's Trafficking in Persons Report will galvanize action across the globe. If the world community works together, countless thousands can be spared abuse and despair, and those already victimized can be helped back to lives of dignity and freedom.

I will now turn the podium over to the Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Ambassador Nancy Ely-Raphel. Nancy.

Released on June 5, 2002

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