10 November 2010

Human Trafficking? In my backyard? Surely not!

The United States was ranked for the first time in the 10th annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report documenting human trafficking and modern slavery, released in June by the US Department of State. The report found that in America men, women, and children were subject to trafficking for “forced labor, debt bondage, and forced prostitution.”

The report represents a “whole decade of work the State Department has pioneered,” said Andrea Bertone, director of Human Trafficking.org

Jennifer Bernal Garcia of the Center for a New American Security said that human trafficking is a transnational phenomenon and the “U.S. is in no way immune.”

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton announced the release of the report in Washington, D.C., urging governments as well as businesses that profit from human trafficking to take “shared responsibility” for these human rights violations.

Important national and international legislation was passed 10 years ago that allowed the report to begin its annual research and assessment of human trafficking across the world. In 2000, the United States passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, establishing the tier ranking system of the report. The United Nations also adopted the Palermo Protocol that year, which provided for “the criminalization of all acts of trafficking—including forced labor, slavery, and slaverylike practices—and that governmental response should incorporate the '3P' paradigm: prevention, criminal prosecution, and victim protection,” according to the report’s website.

Secretary Clinton said that the task of ending modern slavery cannot be simply given to nongovernmental organizations. In order to bring traffickers to justice,
“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,”

Ambassador CdeBaca noted that 10 years ago when the report was compiled for the first time, human trafficking was “a little-understood crime that took place in the shadows, cast a darkness over our fundamental rights whether constitutional, international norms, or personal liberties.” Ten years later, it has become a topic of great concern, and there is an even greater need to take bold steps forward, said CdeBaca.

CdeBaca addressed America’s participation in human trafficking. The 2010 report documents the United States not just as a destination or transit country for trafficking, but “we, too, are a source country for people held in servitude.”

There is still much left to do to end slavery once and for all, and Clinton said she hopes “this report galvanizes further action.”

Adapted from: Annie Wu and Nicholas Zifcak. "US Ranked on Human Trafficking for First Time."
The Epoch Times. 14 June 2010.

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