Around the world, it is estimated that nearly 27.6 million people are victims of human trafficking. The United States itself is not immune to this exploitation, which deprives individuals of dignity and full enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms. The number of individuals at risk of trafficking continues to increase while too few victims and survivors are being identified and traffickers convicted.
With these formidable challenges in mind, today I chaired the 2023 meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Task force agencies committed to taking significant steps throughout 2023 to advance progress to combat human trafficking, including to advance the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. We also heard from a member of the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, who challenged us to effectively incorporate survivors as equal stakeholders in our work.
Looking forward, the State Department will do our part, by:
- Promoting meaningful survivor engagement and leadership through our support to the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking and our engagement with consultants in the Department’s Human Trafficking Expert Consultant Network. For the 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report, consultants are drafting and reviewing content for the introduction in addition to advising on the inclusion of trauma-informed photography and ethical storytelling.
- Preventing and addressing human trafficking, including forced labor, through our own procurement in the global marketplace. There will be special emphasis on better equipping our acquisitions workforce with the knowledge and support they need, in addition to developing a new risk screening process to mitigate this danger from State Department contracts.
- Collaborating with Canada and Mexico through the Trilateral Working Group on Trafficking in Persons, which will resume this year.
- Working to prevent trafficking within the diplomatic community by providing important checks on the welfare of domestic workers employed by foreign mission and international organization personnel across the United States.
- Making new investments to build on the successes of U.S. anti-trafficking foreign assistance programs, including to combat forced child labor for domestic work and begging.
During the meeting, I presented the 2022 Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons to two organizations: Mercy Medical Center’s Blue Dot Human Trafficking Initiative for its innovative and holistic approach to the care and wellbeing of victims of human trafficking, and Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc., for its tireless worker-led advocacy to advance a more just and humane migration process free of forced labor and other forms of exploitation. These organizations inspire us all to take action to end trafficking in persons once and for all.
originally published at Politics - JISIP NEWS