Thank you all. My goodness. This is, if not the largest, certainly one of the biggest crowds we’ve had here, which makes me very happy. Just don’t tell the fire marshals and – (laughter) – we will be okay for the rest of the morning.
I want to thank Under Secretary Maria Otero for her leadership on this and so many other pressing global challenges. I want to thank our own hero, Ambassador Lou CdeBaca, and all the men and women here at the State Department. (Applause.) They are working literally around the clock to shine the brightest of all spotlights on the scourge of modern slavery. Lou and his team work very closely with Melanne Verveer, our first ever ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Issues. Because human trafficking not only exploits and victimizes women and girls; it also fuels the epidemic of gender-based violence around the world. So thank you, one and all.
I want to – in this crowd, I see a lot of familiar faces and I’m happy to say even more newer faces of people who are new to this struggle. But I want to single out one person because he’s a friend and a former colleague that is a champion of human rights and anti-trafficking efforts around the world, Congressman Jim McGovern, who is here with us today. (Applause.)
As you know, Congress has a key role to play in providing the mandates and consequences for these reports, and we deeply value their advice and counsel. But I know that in the Ben Franklin Room today are people who have advocated, organized, legislated, done everything you can to help end human trafficking and modern slavery in all of its forms. And I am honored to have worked by your side for many years.
Today we release the 10th annual Trafficking in Persons Report. I remember very well when we got the wheels in motion for this process because we wanted to document the persistent injustice of modern slavery. We wanted to tell the stories of men, women, boys, and girls held in forced labor or sexual servitude around the world. And for the first time ever, we are also reporting on the United States of America because we believe it is important to keep the spotlight on ourselves. (Applause.)
This report provides in-depth assessments and recommendations for 177 countries, some of whom are making great progress toward abolishing the illicit trade in human beings. Others are still doing too little to stem the tide. But behind these statistics on the pages are the struggles of real human beings, the tears of families who may never see their children again, the despair and indignity of those suffering under the worst forms of exploitation. And through this report we bear witness to their experience and commit ourselves to abolishing this horrible crime.
Human trafficking crosses cultures and continents. I’ve met survivors of trafficking and their families, along with brave men and women in both the public and the private sector who have stood up against this terrible crime. All of us have a responsibility to bring this practice to an end. Survivors must be supported and their families aided and comforted, but we cannot turn our responsibility for doing that over to nongovernmental organizations or the faith community. Traffickers must be brought to justice. And we can’t just blame international organized crime and rely on law enforcement to pursue them. It is everyone’s responsibility. Businesses that knowingly profit or exhibit reckless disregard about their supply chains, governments that turn a blind eye or do not devote serious resources to addressing the problem, all of us have to speak out and act forcefully.
Now, we talk often here in the State Department about shared responsibility. Indeed, it is a core principle of our foreign policy. So we have to ensure that our policies live up to our ideals. And that is why we have for the first time included the United States. As this report documents, cases of trafficking persons are found in our own communities. In some cases, foreign workers drawn by the hope of a better life in America are trapped by abusive employers. And there are Americans, unfortunately, who are held in sexual slavery. Some find themselves trapped through debt to work against their will in conditions of modern-day bondage. And this report sends a clear message to all of our countrymen and women: human trafficking is not someone else’s problem. Involuntary servitude is not something we can ignore or hope doesn’t exist in our own communities.
I’m very proud of the bipartisan commitment and leadership that the United States has shown on this issue over many years. For the Obama Administration, combating this crime is a top priority. And the United States funds 140 anti-trafficking programs in nearly 70 countries, as well as supporting 38 domestic task forces that bring state and local authorities together with NGOs like many represented in this room.
It’s been 10 years since the United Nations Trafficking in Persons Protocol was negotiated and the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act was enacted, and I was very proud to have worked on both of those in a prior life sometime back. (Laughter.) And under the paradigm of the three Ps – prevention, protection, and prosecution – and thanks in part to the facts and focus provided by this annual report, governments, law enforcement agencies, international organizations, and families are working more closely together than ever. Now we call for the fourth P – partnership. And that is making a real difference. More countries are updating their laws and expanding enforcement, more criminals are facing prosecution, and more survivors are being helped back into a life of freedom.
This report is a catalogue of tragedies that the world cannot continue to accept. But it is also a record that deserves praise and recognition because it exemplifies hope and action because hope without action cannot be our goal. We have to provide the hope that then leads to the action that changes the reality that we describe.
Now, this report is very thorough. It has very specific recommendations. Countries come to us and ask very forcefully not to be dropped in their category and we hear them out and we tell them. And we increasingly tried last year to do that earlier in the process –we’re going to do it even earlier this year – to tell them the kinds of things that we would look to that would demonstrate the commitment that we think would make a difference, to talk about best practices, to share stories. And some countries have listened and the results speak for themselves. Others have not.
Now this is a process that is fraught with all kinds of feelings and I recognize that, but the easiest way to get out of the tier three and get off the watch list is to really act. And we had some real friends, friends – countries that are friends on so many important issues, and they were very upset when we told them that they were not going to progress and, in fact, were in danger of regressing. And then they said, “Well, what can we do?” And we said, “Well, we’ve pointed this out, we point it out again, and we will stand ready to help you.” And I hope all of you will because our goal should not be to point fingers. Our goal should be extending a hand to help people improve and make a difference in how they address this problem.
Now today, we’re honoring a number of heroes in the fight against trafficking. These are people who hail from all over the world. You’ll meet them in a moment. They have met a common challenge with uncommon heroism. You’ll meet a French Dominican friar who started working with the rural poor in northern Brazil and ended up leading a national campaign against slave labor; a woman from Burundi, one of the first to serve as an army officer in her native country, who searches the streets for enslaved children and recently broke up a major human trafficking ring. And thanks in part to her efforts, the Burundian Government made clear progress in combating trafficking over the past year, particularly with regard to identifying victims, investigating potential offenses, and raising public awarenesses [sic].
There are other success stories that can serve as models going forward. Argentina achieved its first conviction under a 2008 anti-trafficking law. Egypt enacted the first-ever comprehensive anti-trafficking law and is starting a rehabilitation center at a major hospital. Police in Ghana partnered with Interpol to host regional training for law enforcement officials from across Africa. So today, we congratulate and thank those countries that have made progress in the last year. We reaffirm the commitment of the United States to do everything we can at home and around the world to end modern slavery and I hope this report galvanizes further action.
And now it’s my great personal pleasure to turn the podium over to Ambassador CdeBaca, who has been doing a superb job in coordinating our efforts, to introduce you to the heroes that we have gathered here today, to tell you a little more about their stories, and to use their example as a way to spur others to take such actions.
Retrieved on July 18, 2019 from http://voicesofdemocracy.umd.edu/hillary-rodham-clinton-trafficking-speech-text.