By C J Oakes, October 24, 2016
The Presidents Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking met today for the last time under the Obama Administration.
Sec. John Kerry spoke on the matter, stating his hope that the next Presidential administration will continue the work started in 2000. He mirrored that in 2013, President Obama added various initiatives to further encourage and expand efforts to end human trafficking. He said that trafficking is “a multi-billion dollar enterprise” spanning nearly every nation. He also stated that human trafficking “is common, unfortunately.”
Human Trafficking is Far Too Common
Secretary Kerry noted that,
“We have a moral imperative to do all we can…but we also have a strategic reason.”
Indeed, as various agency heads went on to show, human trafficking and the problems it creates for society span nearly every aspect of life, not only in the United States, but elsewhere. All spoke of the need to continue working to raise awareness of the problem.
In an era where slavery has legally ended, more than 20 million persons worldwide are kept as slaves. According to DoSomething.org, citing the State Department, nearly 800,000 persons are trafficked across borders each year. Of these, 80% are female, half children…many are sold into sex slavery operations and not just in foreign markets. Such slavery occurs in the United States as well.
In announcing the Achievements of the year, some of the highlights included increased
- guidance for managing and mitigating HT
- New strategy to roll out Jan 2017
- advisory council published first report last week (read it here, pdf)
The trafficking task force also noted the importance of having survivors on local and regional boards.
Secretary Kerry announced Citation for, calling four persons to the front to receive their honors. These were:
- SOS – Students Opposing Slavery – started by High School Students in 2012
- Dr Christopher White – for developing new tech for aiding law enforcement in locating and stopping human traffickers. Dr. White invented DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). However, it was a recent invention called Memex, an advanced search program to identify trafficking operations, for which he was honored.
Council Co-Chair Harold Desousa then spoke, giving his perspective on this modern form of slavery. Originally from India, he is a survivor of human trafficking/slavery. Mr. Desousa was promised a factory job in the U.S. but on arrival was made a slave. He provided encouraging words for anyone faced with such a situation. He stated,
“In slavery, life is changed, not ended. “
(Side note: Although many readers may wonder how his words could help those enslaved by human traffickers? Simple. People on vacation can find themselves captives of human traffickers; job seekers; and really, anyone can become a victim. Trafficking is an international organized crime which can impact anyone at any time, especially children and young adults.)
DOJ, FBI, and EOC Comments on Human Trafficking
Attorney General Lynch then explained that the U.S. Department of Justice DOJ in collaboration with Mexican Authorities have $49 Million in grants have been made available, to be divided among both law enforcement agencies involved in anti-trafficking and victim services.
FBI James Comey, we recently rescued 82 children and locked up the traffickers. Pushing out training so that people know what to look for and increasing partnerships around the world to stop trafficking at the source. Comey promised that regardless of the next administration, the FBI will continue to fight trafficking under his watch.
EOC – trafficked persons face discrimination on the job. Just last year, an operation was identified which lured over 400 persons from India with promises of U.S. citizenship. On arrival, they were forced into mass housing in Texas and Mississippi and forced to work in discriminatory and substandard conditions for long hours. The perpetrators used the HB1 Visa program to carry out the illegal operation.
Homeland Security is Involved in Human Trafficking Because it is an International Issue
As discussed throughout this site, human trafficking is a growing problem, not only in such notorious locations as Bangkok, but right here in the United States. The director of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson provided stark reminders of this.
He noted that just last week a prostitution operation was broken up. They found that the criminal organizers had enslaved young girls from an early age and kept them working through violence and drugs. This is not unusual. Such operations often smuggle children into the United States, abduct children here at home, and lure runaways to their operation. Then, they get the children addicted to drugs in order to control them. When this fails, violence is used.
The panel closed by reminding all agency heads that one of the most important things which all must do is keep increasing awareness of the problem. Noted too is that there are 87 days left to accomplish the many elements put in place to continue combatting human trafficking.
Regardless of what the next Presidential administration decides, CriminalJusticeLaw.org will continue to educate the international public on the issue of human trafficking. We do so through such articles as…