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Salute to the Abolitionists Ending Modern-Day Slavery

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
December 19, 2006

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4:30 p.m. EST

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. Thank you, Paula, for that kind introduction and thank you for your personal dedication to this work. I want very much to welcome to this gathering Congressman Frank Wolf, Congressman Chris Smith -- you have been stalwart in helping the United States Government to take on its responsibilities in this important cause. Thank you very much. Thank you Reverend Dr. Lyon for that wonderful prayer and I see my cabinet colleague, Jim Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Welcome to all, to members of the diplomatic community and especially to all of you whose efforts we are celebrating here today.

Gathered here this afternoon are many of the men and women who are helping America to lead the 21st century movement to abolish human trafficking. You understand that the egregious abuses of human life and liberty cannot be tolerated by any culture and that when it comes to the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity, we must work to lift up the world to high standards and to high principles.

President Bush shares that spirit. A little more than three years ago, the President made a bold proclamation before the United Nations General Assembly. He singled out the global scourge of trafficking in persons as one of the great crimes of this young century, indeed, one tantamount to the modern day form of slavery. There's a special evil he said in the abuse and exploitation of the most innocent and vulnerable. Those who create these victims and profit from their suffering must be severely punished.

Today, thanks to your efforts, more governments have begun to criminalize and punish the perpetrators of this abuse and that exploitation. And today, thanks to your efforts, America is building new partnerships with many organizations and individuals across the globe that are helping to rescue and shelter the survivors of trafficking. And today, thanks to your efforts, the media has increased its focus on the reality of human trafficking, raising public awareness by telling the horrific stories of victims. In many ways the success of your work is represented in the annual Trafficking in Persons Report. That reports displays the remarkable year-to-year progress that we are encouraging, reflecting a growing cooperation and commitment among governments to join the fight against trafficking, a fight that for every nation must begin at home.

Indeed in my travels over the past two years, I have noticed a greater desire among our many partners to fight this terrible crime and protect its victims. Not all of the work is done to be sure, but the work is most assuredly underway and much of the credit for that work belongs to Ambassador John Miller, who I'm sad to say is leaving us at the end of this year. But John you're also leaving something really important behind, a truly remarkable record of accomplishment in our campaign against human trafficking.

Ambassador Miller's work these past four years has helped to build and sustain efforts on the part of dozens of governments to confront the crime of human trafficking, to respond to the plight of victims and to apply justice consistent with the international standards. In short, Ambassador Miller, who has given great inspiration to the people with whom he works, including me, Ambassador Miller, has served as a model for the State Department's transformational diplomacy. As Ambassador-at-Large he has used his diplomatic power to help foreign citizens better their own lives, improve their own nations and transform their own futures. I know that Ambassador Miller's son, Rip, is with him here. I'm glad that you have family here to share in this celebration also of your work, John. But I want to thank you for your tenacity and your determination and I want all present here to applaud you for your dedication to abolish the scourge of trafficking in persons. (Applause.)

Thank you.

###

2006/1130



Released on December 19, 2006

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