Combating Modern-Day Slavery

Posted by Mark Lagon
June 12, 2008

About the Author: Ambassador Mark P. Lagon is Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State and Director of the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Ambassador Lagon's previous post: Human Trafficking: The Basics.

In every country around the world, including the United States, there is human trafficking. Men, women, and children are held in domestic servitude, exploited for commercial sex, forcibly recruited as child soldiers, or abused in factories and sweatshops. These forms of human trafficking are, in fact, modern-day slavery, and I have the privilege in my role as director of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to draw attention to their plight and work toward abolition.

This year, America commemorates the bicentennial of the outlawing of the transatlantic slave trade. The same lie which underpinned the transatlantic slave trade of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, namely that some people are less than human, is the very lie that fuels human trafficking.

Consider the treatment of Nirmala Bonat, an Indonesian maid who has relentlessly pursued justice in Malaysian courts for nearly four years since being brutally beaten and burned on her breast with an iron in 2004 by her Malaysian employer, for which the employer faces criminal charges. Despite having to stay in Kuala Lumpur – where she is sheltered by the Indonesian Embassy – to continue with court proceedings and being humiliated in court on many occasions, she has stood her ground, refusing to go home and give up her case. In doing so, she has become an inspiration worldwide for abused trafficking victims seeking to claim their rights. She is a hero in our 2008 Trafficking in Persons Report, which I joined Secretary Rice in releasing last week. This report raises awareness and stimulates action to address this crime. It is an invaluable tool in drawing the world’s attention to the existence of modern-day slavery.

Those who commit or facilitate the crime of trafficking in persons—including fraudulent recruiters, exploitative employers, and corrupt government officials—must be held to account.

This year’s report highlights the issue of demand, and the role it plays in perpetuating the phenomenon of trafficking. So-called “customers” of the “sex industry” must realize how the demand for commercial sex can directly or indirectly fuel sex trafficking. With respect to the forced labor side of trafficking, companies can play an important role by working to ensure that the products they provide for consumers are not derived wholly or in part from forced labor. Consumers need to be aware of the tainting of production chains with this modern-day slavery.

As we continue to shed light on emerging global trends for trafficking in persons, we are steadfast in support for countries willing to partner with us in this global fight. We remain committed to act as a voice for the many voiceless victims of this crime—the prostituted woman or child, the exploited domestic worker, the trapped agricultural laborer. Their bondage demands our attention and action. Let us together restore the human dignity of all those affected by this dehumanizing and horrific crime.

Comments

Comments

Ronald
|
New York, USA
June 13, 2008

Ronald in New York writes:

Human Trafficking...

1- Reflects economic and political disparities.

2- Is Very profitable and an alternative to labor laws.

3- An option for millions who are deemed undesireable and unemployable.

4- Another commodity in a privatized and globalized economy.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
June 17, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ DipNote Blogger Mark P. Lagon -- Hi Mark,

I was wondering what procedures would take place if someone escaped their circumstance and walked into a U.S. embassy for help.

What mechanisms would be employed to address the issue with the host gov. and what options would the victim be offered for sanctuary? Legal assistance, etc.

Thanks.

DipNote Bloggers write:

@ Eric in New Mexico -- Thanks for your question Eric. You'll have a response soon...

JOE
|
Tennessee, USA
June 14, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

What do you call working in America and bringing home a $97 pay check from Wall Mart after your jobs been shipped out to China, Mexico, Viet Nam, India...etc.

We have this here from the Mother tying to earn a few extra dollars dancing or prostituting herself.

Why do you only view the rest of the world when American Policies do not protect their own citizens?

John
|
Greece
June 15, 2008

John in Greece writes:

Joe, what do you mean $97?

Per day? Per week, or per month?

Because, the basic salary in Bulgaria is 150 Euros PER MONTH for a 10 hour shift, 6 days a week.

Maybe we should start the debate examining these countries first...

JOE
|
Tennessee, USA
June 16, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

First, there is a president which seems completely omitted in all conversations herein. Who cares about wages in Belgium, Bolivia or anywhere else if America does not demonstrate parity to its own citizens? Who, it talking and taking authority: Corporations or the Representatives of the People who represent a Constitution FOR THE PEOPLE? I am talking about an America which is dying. We are in a Depression, yet bleeding hearts from all over the world want more, yet do less because we offer a free ride to everyone but our own citizens. ...I find the level of educational rhetoric on this blog to be limited to the scope of HS educated personal or those limited by educations other than Political, military or intelligence. Psychological perhaps at best as the parameters of conversation often lend to emotional response or faulty information ...like 100% faulty as to entice a response ...not actually direct a productive view or response.

Even the basic answers are not here: Stable Government, Employment, basic health necessities and education. This State Dept Blog is looking more and more like some late night Evangelical guilt collection half hour. Only instead of collecting money, it is trying to explain what they do with it all ...while their own are suffering...

Africa can find ONE country which is not under war, has a stable government and economy and start its own FOOD BANK by planting, warehousing and distribution. Centralize FIRST where you are the strongest. They CAN UNIFY more than they do to help themselves ...It it AFRICA and they do have an identity. Many problems there are simply considered more complex than they actually are because corporations make trillions off the people, not Governments. Again the problem is governments that do not limit or control those who take advantage of the people they represent. Any Governmental official has Dominion, which means to take care of, not control for profit.

1. What is happening in America is considered the Second Gilded Age. While we do have more freedoms here, the average wage for starting out at General Motors right now is equivalent, with adjustments of present day conditions, to wages of 1948
.
2. There is the largest disparity of class structure than in the history of America. Wealth is NOT evenly distributed, nor is the opportunities. Do not even imply differently.

3. An entire age population group is well over 40% without sufficient health care. These are the people who paid the Taxs and defended the right for Corporations to amass their wealth.

4. We are not the highest living standard in the world any longer. Somewhere like 47th -- Who would have ever thought we do not have the best of everything?

I can keep going, but why? It is like Americans have been put through 20 years of propaganda to think things were better. One Administration simply set up the next one. We need to fix America before we keep spending money to fix anyone else.

In DC the tendency is to look at numbers ...they don't have the time to be at ground zero. I understand that; but, to see all the closings of companies, loss of workers rights, health care, education, housing, banking... the whole thing is going downhill and if we are supposed to be offering a better way of life to the rest of the world, what is happened here? How can we present this great idea of Democracy and Equality when we do not practice it here for our own people?

Why should we take less at the bottom level of society to give more to the bottom level elsewhere? It is like dismantling a middle class structure in one place to improve the lower class structure somewhere else. Why should Americans take less? Why? I doubt seriously if you were to tell anyone living out of their automobile they should feel good about it because someone else is improving their life somewhere else would find that a positive thing.

I am simply tired of the manipulation of the Plato Pot parody being dished out to Americans when we have our own problems at home to fix first under the pretext of it actually doing anything valuable, when we do not actually eliminate the bad leadership or make governmental changes to help these people take care of themselves.

You know, it is representative of a major problem we have: Too many autocracies that act like independent Unions rather than ONE GOVERNMENT that Represents the People through the Constitution first.

Unfortunately, the world is way beyond Just wearing a Hat well.

$97 is representative of the end pay of the Part time weekly help Wall Mart uses in one California local to avoid paying health care benifits, but they consider the employee's full time workers. It was an ABC piece last week. If they do not show up on randome schedules, they are fired...so they cannot look for perminite work. If ANYONE talks about a Union in any Wall Mart, they are fired...does that sound American? The rich get richer...

Umm, maybe the squeaky wheel will work for me.....LOL!

Joe
|
Tennessee, USA
June 16, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

---What mechanisms would be employed to address the issue with the host gov. and what options would the victim be offered for sanctuary? Legal assistance, etc.---

Unless it is political, military, industrial or you have something to TRADE, like Intelligence...the answer is obvious: why do you think all those people take boats, planes, climb fences...

If it is any of the above, descretely contact...

What is the country of origin to be considered?

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
June 17, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Put a sock in it Joe and let the folks at DoS speak for themselves if they care to answer my question.

JOE
|
Tennessee, USA
June 19, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

Why the personalization?

1. There are standards for Political Asylum listed.

2. If it is sensitive: cia.gov

Why post on an international blog if it is?

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
June 20, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Joe in Tennessee -- Joe Wrote:

"Unless it is political, military, industrial or you have something to TRADE, like Intelligence...the answer is obvious: why do you think all those people take boats, planes, climb fences..."

Oh so you do know an amnesty program exists Joe... So what rationale did you use to personalize insult to new level at the expense of every decent hard-working Consular Officer working for DoS, by implying bribery, corruption and favoritizm is the order of the day.

I personally know that providing intel does not give a foreign national a "fast track" to citizenship, nor does it help the source's credibility to think that grand award awaits. If it is provided in order to save lives without seeking anything by way of personal reward, then the intel will be considered and vetted to the extent possible. Otherwise it is viewed of suspect value from get go.

Only exception I have heard of is when a foreign citizen goes above and beyond to save the life of an American citizen.

If I told you to put a sock in it and it was printed, I'm pretty sure others concerned would have liked to have used more choice language had it been printable and I'm suprised DoS puts up with your constant angency-wide libel. And if they print this, that probably confirms the analysis.

Since you really don't have a clue what I'm asking, it goes far beyond just amnesty....I'm interested in the joint criminal investigative mechanism between governments to A) end the criminal enterprise, B) protect witnesses...

This topic is just a little different than dealing with CIA case officers, visa applications or migrations of people away from poverty or oppression.

So let's see what DoS has to say....

JOE
|
Tennessee, USA
June 27, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

1. It is your generalization which is problematic, not my responses.

2. The U.S. Department of Justice handles that aspect of things or can guide you. Through them the DEA and the specific Judicial Enforcement division can be contacted. There are concerted programs though out the world on crime and you need to only be specific and contact the central part of our Judiciary System which oversees the FBI and DEA as well as other special task forces.

3. The United Nations also has such programs.

5. Yes, I am totally familiar with how we do things and if you had Intel as to WMDs, AQ or are an important Political persona you would have PROIOTIY, not favoritism. That is simple reality. I made no implication as to corruption on a Governmental level at all. I am not a politician and whatever you discern of statements is on you, which seem on the verge of paranoia. It is obvious that you need direction so Be Specific and contact the correct agency....there is a Security Division of the DOS and the DOS site offers a method of contact. Simply Contact the DOS directly. Go to the very bottom of the opening page at State.gov and you will see a Contact Us. Prompt this and it will open a page that has two choices. Answer question generally or prompt the BLUE TAB and e mail a direct question, choosing the closet identification to your needs. You may still find that contacting the FBI or Department of Justice better for your needs if this is legitimate. You must realize the work load they all have and be realistic; which is why I made the comment mistaken by you. They have to work by priorities it is a simple reality and if you have something which is under investigation, etc. there is a better chance of response and reply.

6. Why do you think there is not a Response from the DOS?

7. I explained the reverse views were to promote discusion, no more no less.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 2, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Joe in Tennessee -- I think you need to worry about your own generalizations Joe, along with other hair brained statements you've become famous for ...like calling a billion folks in China and the region "Godless" because they may practice a different faith than you do. Myself among those who call themselves Buddhist ...now when you are man enough to offer personal appology, then perhaps I'll come to Tenn. and explain what I mean in the specific case I was referring to. We can compare notes on the efficiancy of the intel community.

It is only one case among many that proves your generalization here to be ignorant on its face, even though any intelligent reader would see through your pale attempt to insult the Dept of State's Consular officers as an institution of current immigration policy.

Joe wrote:

"Unless it is political, military, industrial or you have something to TRADE, like Intelligence...the answer is obvious: why do you think all those people take boats, planes, climb fences..."

I don't pretend to know everything Joe, that's why I ask questions. If DoS hasn't answered it, that's probably because they are too busy laughing as you try to do the "know it all" routine by explaining for them.

Even in a case like Niels Bohr, who was deemed so essential to the Manhatten project that an OSS opp was conducted to extract him out of Nazi occupied Norway, Niels still waited five years to accutally get U.S. citizenship. Like every one else, he had to fill out the paperwork ...sometimes folks get to do all of that while here in this country because it is impossible for them to apply for visa through normal U.S. embassy channels in their own country, because of extenuating circumstance.

Don't worry about what you think you know, worry more about what you know you don't. Little friendly advice ...at no charge.

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